I am a third grade general education teacher who took part in a 2-year K-8 Math Certificate cohort through the University of Madison, Wisconsin, which included developing, conducting, and presenting an action research project. Here is a little bit of my thought process and what I learned about my students and myself from my action research:
Over the last few years, I have been focusing my practice around two things: improving mathematical discourse amongst students and developing my students’ metacognition and self-reflective components of learning. So when it came time to pick an initial action research question I thought about how I could improve my own teaching tools or pedagogical techniques to lift the level of discourse that my third graders were presenting during class discussions, which were predominantly forums built into the Bridges curriculum. After some initial data collection I realized that my students needed more explicit instruction and scaffolds (e.g., anchor charts, modeled thinking and observation making, sentence frames), instead of predominantly utilizing questioning techniques, which led me to alter my question. While conducting this research was difficult at times, overall I felt that I learned more about my students and how to better support them as learners. I became more excited as I saw my students’ enthusiasm for giving feedback grow with each feedback session. In this short amount of time I have seen some growth in the complexity of feedback that my students are giving. I can only imagine how much more they would grow if I had started this at the beginning of the year. While there are still some ideas to process through (e.g., incorporating self-reflection and math practices in a more fluid manner), I am eager to continue the work I have done and build on it to further develop my students’ capacity for providing meaningful mathematical feedback through the lens of mathematical practices, while looking at student exemplars.