solving world problems

equity & social justice in mathematics education

lesson study

Exploring Teacher and Student Identity through Mathematics Tasks: A Lesson Study

Principal Investigator: Frances K. Harper
Collaborators: Anne Ho & Luis Leyva
Funding: SEC Travel Grant
Dates: 2018-2019

Recent efforts in mathematics education (e.g., Mathematics Teacher Educator; AMTE Standards for Preparing Teachers of Mathematics) emphasize the need for and importance of systematically “supporting and improving the practice of educating teachers of mathematics” (Smith, 2012, p. 3). This collaboration between education and mathematics faculty at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) and Vanderbilt University had a twofold purpose: (1) contribute to the developing practitioner knowledge base in mathematics teacher education and (2) improve the preparation of teachers of mathematics in Tennessee. We engaged in lesson study, a collaborative professional development approach to developing the effectiveness of a lesson over iterative cycles of planning, enactment, reflection, and revision (Lewis, Perry, & Murata, 2006). We conducted three cycles of lesson study across the 2018-19 academic year in three different graduate course contexts: (1) Leyva’s elementary mathematics methods at Vanderbilt (2) Ho’s mathematics seminar for practicing teachers at UTK, and (3) Harper’s elementary mathematics methods at UTK.

Through iterative cycles of lesson study, we took up the question: How can mathematics teacher educators support teachers’ development of identities as capable doers and teachers of mathematics (C.1; AMTE, 2017), particularly through lesson activities aimed to increase awareness of equity issues related to student mathematics identity? (C.4; AMTE, 2017).


Ho, A., Harper, F. K. & Leyva, L. (accepted for 2019, July). A lesson study on the incorporation of an identity activity with a fractions task. Research presentation at the inaugural conference of the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Multicultural Education, Cookeville, TN.

Abstract: We utilize a Lesson Study model to collaboratively research and implement a class session for current and future teachers of mathematics which incorporates a teacher identity activity with a fractions task.  The identity activity asks teachers to reflect upon dimensions of their own professional and personal identity (UC Berkeley- EQUALS 2007), and the fractions task (McCormick 2015, Fosnot and Dolk 2002) uses a Complex Instruction “groupworthy” adaptation (McDuffie et al.) to engage students in questions about fractional fair sharing and comparing fraction quantities.  In the Lesson Study process, we refine and improve the class session across diverse groups of teachers, including pre-service and in-service teachers. This project is a collaboration between Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee.

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