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“We can be anything we want to be in math class:” Creating spaces that support student engagement Lisa M. Jilk PSCTM February 9, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "“We can be anything we want to be in math class:” Creating spaces that support student engagement Lisa M. Jilk PSCTM February 9, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 “We can be anything we want to be in math class:” Creating spaces that support student engagement Lisa M. Jilk PSCTM February 9, 2009

2 Teacher-Researcher Trajectory High school mathematics teacher (1993-2002) Graduate Student (2002-2007) Designing Groupwork course facilitator and Instructional coach (2004-present) University of Washington and Seattle Public Schools (September 2008-present)

3 Railside High School Railside High School is a diverse, urban public high school serving grades 9-12 in northern California. During the 2000-2001 school year Railside had approximately 1500 total students. Of these students 35% were Latino, 25% African American, 21% White, 18% Asian or Pacific Islander, and 1% American Indian. In 2000-2001, 12% of all students at Railside received English language services, and of these 68% were Spanish speaking (Education Data Partnership, 2007).

4 Complex Instruction (CI) Cohen, E. G. (1994)

5 Previous Research at Railside High Boaler, J. (in press). Promoting ‘relational equity’ and high mathematics achievement through an innovative mixed ability approach. To appear in the British Educational Research Journal. Boaler, J. (2006). Opening Our Ideas: How a de-tracked math approach promoted respect, responsibility and high achievement. Theory into Practice. Winter 2006, Vol. 45, No. 1, 40-46. Boaler, J. (2006). Urban Success: A Multidimensional mathematics approach with equitable outcomes. Phi Delta Kappan, 87, 5. Boaler, J & Staples, M. (2007). Creating Mathematical Futures through an Equitable Teaching Approach: The Case of Railside School. Teachers' College Record. Cossey, R. (1997). Mathematics communication: Issues of access and equity. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford University. Hand, V. (2003). Reframing participation: Meaningful mathematical activity in diverse classrooms. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. Horn, I. (2002). Learning on the job: Mathematics teachers' professional development in the context of high school reform. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley. Horn, I. S. (2006). Lessons learned from de-tracked mathematics departments. Theory into Practice, 45(1), 72-81. Lieberman, J. C. (1997). Enabling professionalism in high school mathematics departments: The role of generative community. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation. Stanford University.

6 Research Questions 1. Which salient identities were created by Latina immigrants who were academically successful in their secondary mathematics classes, and in which communities of practice were these identities shaped? 2. How do Latina immigrants who were academically successful in secondary mathematics interpret their experiences with Complex Instruction through the lenses of their salient identities?

7 Mathematics Education and Identity Participation in mathematics classrooms Mathematics Identity (Greeno, 2005; Martin, 2002; Wenger, 1998) Identity Participation in mathematics classrooms (Boaler & Greeno, 2002; Sfard & Prusak, 2005)

8 Education, Culture, and Identity Participation in communities of practice Task-related Identities (Nasir, 2002) Cultured Identities Participation in schools and classrooms (void of content) (Ladson-Billings, 1995; Nieto, 1992; Waters, 1999)

9 My research is situated at the intersection of three branches of literature

10 Identity Identity is “the imagining of self in worlds of action...developed in and through cultural activity... a key means through which people care about and care for what is going on around them...Identity mediates agency” (Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, & Cain, 1998, p. 5).

11 Salient Identity  “It is folly to assume that members of a voluntary group or even members of an involuntary – ethnic or racial – group are uniform in their identities.”  People develop identities in different degrees of salience based on an individual social situation, histories, and varying amounts of involvement in particular communities. (Holland, D., Lachiotte, W., Skinner, D., & Cain, C., 1998)

12 Salient Identity “I am black, but blackness is not the totality of my identity. It is not even the core of my identity…I have the freedom to define myself as I think best. After all, who’s living my life? (Lester, 1992, p. 84).

13 Amelia Mexico Mariana Guatemala Emily El Salvador Sandra Nicaragua Participants

14 Methods  Narrative Inquiry: People provide access to their inner realities as they tell stories about themselves and coherent interpretations of their lives Interviews and focus groups (3 waves of interviews, 2 focus groups, 1 interview with the mother of each participant)  Case Study: Allowed me to foreground the “local particulars” (Dyson & Genishi, 2005) of the women’s stories


16 NameSalient Identity MeaningMathematics Practices Invoked Translation Emily“Christian”Serve God by helping others and becoming a better person by bringing others to God Cooperative groups and norms for working in groups while learning mathematics “In high school we had the groups, the responsibility we had in groups that everybody had to learn it and try to help the person next to you, in front of you, to the side of you, whatever.” Amelia“liberal”Voice (express opinions) Authority (discern direction over one’s life) “multi- dimensional” mathematics “You’re free to talk. You’re free to participate. You’re free to give your opinions. You’re being yourself because you are saying what’s on your mind and you’re not hiding it.”

17 NameSalient Identity MeaningMathematics Practice Invoked Translation Mariana“feminist”Equal to men in her intelligence Use of primary language while learning mathematics “You guys wouldn’t make us feel stupid. You would make us feel SMART! If we would say, ‘We don’t understand this because we’re stupid,” you’d be like, ‘NO! You’re not stupid! If this was in your language you would understand it really good.’” Sandra“somebody”Social status for purposes of altruism Valorizing diverse mathematics practices "Nobody thought that I was not smart enough to be in that class. Everybody looked at me like, “I can do this problem too. YOU can do it. EVERYBODY can do it.”

18 What does it mean for Emily to be a “Christian”?  Being part of a “family”  Caring for the well-being of others  Helping people when they are sick and need food, shelter, and clothing  Praying with “family” members  Working with her church “family” towards the common goal of helping others to find God

19 Emily’s Stories about HS Math  “Helping each other. I think that was the key in math class. Helping each other, you know, and being supportive of everybody. It’s like a family. Math class was like a family”… “We had those small groups, so I felt very close to everybody in math. I wasn’t afraid to ask, ‘Will you help me with this?”  “In math we had the groups, the responsibility in the groups that everybody had to learn it and try to help the person next to you, in front of you, to the side, whatever, you know?”  “So, we were like in my group, I remember my groups always worked together. lt was like, ‘Ok, you guys, we have to work together. Are you done? You don’t understand? Let me help you.’ That’s what I remember in my math class.”

20 Norms for Learning Mathematics used at Railside You have the right to ask for help. You have the responsibility to offer it. No one is done until everyone is done....YET! Ask your question to your group before you ask the teacher. No one of us is as smart as all of us together!

21 Emily’s Translation of Mathematical Norms through her Salient “Christian” Identity  You have the right to ask for help. You have the responsibility to offer it = “Try to help the person next to you, in front of you, to the side, whatever.” (Helping people in need)  No one is done until everyone is done = “Are you done? You don’t understand? Let me help you.” (Caring for the well-being of others) ...YET! = “Everybody had to learn it.” (Working together to help everybody find God)

22 Identity as a Tool for Interpretation and Learning “Christian” Identity Norms for mathematical participation and learning


24 Norms as Classroom “Amendments” “You guys were like preachers, always making sure everybody understands and caring about our learning…I don’t remember none of my classes being selfish or things like that. It was weird if a person was selfish and we used to like criticize that person, like, ‘Damn! They’re hella shady! What are you doin’?’ And they used to change. It’s like, ‘I don’t have to be like this.’ That changed their mind. So, we were like that in my group. We always worked together. “Okay, you guys, we have to work together. Are you done? You don’t understand? Okay, let me help you. That’s what I remember about my math class.”

25 Emily: I learned how to be a good friend too. Lisa: In math? Emily: Yeah. I got closer to my friends and I got closer to people I didn’t know. I learned about them. I learned about their culture. I learned how to respect them even though they were different than I was. Their religion. They were Catholic, I was Christian. But that didn’t matter, you know? I learned how to share. How to share the answers and how to help, how to help them and support them.

26 Results

27 So What?

28 Some Proposed Solutions for Promoting Student Engagement and Learning Culturally Relevant Teaching (Ladson-Billings, 1994) Culturally Responsive Pedagogy(Gay, 2000) Pedagogy for Social justice (Gutstein, 2006)

29 Create spaces in math classrooms that provide students with opportunities to connect with and use their identities as intellectual resources and publically validate students when they do so.

30 Is the goal in teaching to enable students “to become a better me, or to become like you?” (K. Gutierrez, as cited in Cobb & Hodge, 2002; emphasis added)

31 “We CAN be ourselves in math.” Amelia: There were a lot of ways in which we can be in math class. Mariana: Yeah. Sandra: Yeah. Emily: We can be everything that we want to be in our math class. Amelia: Basically, we can be ourselves in math. We CAN be ourselves. Sandra: If we want to be. Mariana: Everything, basically, we can be in math. Amelia: We can be ourselves. Whatever characteristics describe you. We can be OURSELVES!

32 Features of Instructional Practice Use norms and roles that promote social and intellectual respect, collaboration, and “relational equity” (Boaler, in press). Assign competence to relevant mathematical skills and understandings Allow students to use their home languages Expand version of School mathematics

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