The James S. McDonnell Foundation has announced that it will be dedicating $2,500,000 to BU’s School of Education over the next five years as part of its nationwide Understanding Teacher Change and Teachers as Learners in K-12 Classrooms program. The title and focus of this project is “Understanding How Elementary Teachers Take Up Discussion Practices to Promote Disciplinary Learning and Equity.” Professor of Mathematics Education, Dr. Lynsey Gibbons, is the Principal Investigator for the grant, with Drs. Eve Manz, Beth Warren, Andrea Bien, and Catherine O’Connor serving as co-PIs.
As a brief overview, the study aims to understand how educators are using classroom discussion to interact with students in deeper, more engaging ways that impact discipline-based learning. It will also investigate how to better avoid “transmissionist views of knowledge that assign capability to students based on how they demonstrate privileged ways of speaking, reasoning, and knowing.”
Furthermore, the grant will explore the challenges and complexities inherent to elementary teaching, given the broad range of disciplines that are expected to be taught. While researchers in specified areas of education have moved the needle with regards to discussion tactics to achieve the goals above, there is still much to uncover about how to effectively develop these tactics across content areas.
The project summary outlines two phases of research: phase one will attempt to create and evolve a description of the obstacles elementary teachers face as they engage in student discourse within and across mathematics, English Language Arts, and science education. Phase two entails a designed study of educator learning, accompanied by a professional learning model with school and district leaders. The purpose of it being to understand how teachers are learning to organize and coordinate classroom discussion across the three content areas while keeping the topic of equity at the forefront.