Discussion: Keynote Part 1

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posted by: Judith Fonzi on May 16, 2003 at 11:31AM
subject: Implications for PD
Some of you have raised really interesting and important questions
about "what content" and "how to support teachers to learn content". I
have been grappling with these same questions now that Deborah has
challenged us to refocus our lens.

The primary goal of our K-12 mathematics MSP is to "deepen everyone's
content knowledge" and for us everyone means mathematicians, teachers,
parents, community members and students. We knew that there were
differences in "what" content knowledge we would be working on with
each of these different groups but we certainly hadn't thought about it
in the way Deborah is urging !

So now we're in a bad news - good news situation. The bad news is that
we have already begun developing and implementing our Algebra/Geometry
course for K-20 mathematics teachers and we have been teaching "new"
content (mathematics that either didn't exist or wasn't taken when they
were in college but is now important to the K-20 curriculum) using an
inquiry pedagogy.

The good news is that we have 2 more semesters of this course to
develop and implement ! So I've sent copies of Deborah's keynote to our
development team (mathematicians and K-12 Lead Teachers) and have asked
them to think about the questions raised in the talk and to start
jotting down the mathematics they and their teacher colleagues are
employing as they teach. The plan is for us to grapple with this
question of "what mathematics teachers need to know" from this new
perspective and consider if and how it should impact our course
content. I'm thinking it will have a significant impact on both what we
decide to "cover" and how we do so ! I'm thinking we, mathematics
teachers, probably need to talk about this "mathematics content
teachers need to know and be able to do" so that we become aware of it
and can explicitly begin working on it. For example, if I realize that
I must often appraise a novel solution approach then I can work at
developing mathematical strategies for doing so. Then, as a way to
support that learning I imagine more, and more explicit, discussions of
"how I came to XX conclusion - what mathematics did I know, why I chose
that particular mathematical approach/way of thinking, what else went
into my decision (things I know about my students', about myself, about
my context).

And we thought our work as PD providers was already complex ...

I am really interested to know what others are thinking about the
implications of Deborah's work.
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