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The Chèche Konnen Center Bibliography

author: Chèche Konnen Center
description: In this Bibliography, we have posted a small reading list of papers with summaries, chosen because they reflect rich and provocative views, backed by research or intensive classroom experience, of science and mathematics, and of teaching and learning. Four of the papers (Rosebery et al. 1992, Ballenger 1997, Brenner 1996, Garcia 1992) represent research in language minority classrooms, two describe different aspects of inquiry learning (Duckworth 1987, Nemirovsky 1993), and two build on some view of inquiry learning to consider new roles for the teacher in the classroom (Ball 1991, Gallas 1995). These papers are part of a resource packet ("Research on Teaching and Learning in Science and Mathematics: An Introductory Resource") written by Chèche Konnen staff that will be available in the Spring 1998. To obtain copies of this packet, contact the Lab at Brown (LAB).
published in: Lab at Brown (LAB)
published: 03/01/1998
posted to site: 03/05/1998

Language Minority Classrooms

Ballenger, C. (1997). Social identities, moral narratives, scientific argumentation: Science talk in a bilingual classroom. Language and Education, 2(1), 1-14.

Ballenger points out that "school is a site of many discourses, sets of linguistic and social practices that are considered appropriate ways to talk about books, to do math, to regulate behavior. Students arrive familiar with a variety of linguistic and social practices from their families and neighborhoods. For some, school language is relatively close to what they know already and they comfortably join the various conversations. To others, it is difficult to gain access to what may appear to be very foreign ways of talking and acting." To understand how children learn to deal with multiple discourses as they learn science, she proposes that grounded accounts are needed of teaching and learning in classrooms where this issue is being addressed. Her paper focuses on science discussion in a combined 5th-8th grade Haitian bilingual classroom. Ballenger argues that because the science discourse in this classroom included various genres of talk, such as story-telling and joking, it allowed many points of entry for children to participate. Their ways of talking about science allowed them "to explore the content area, in this case, the growth of mold, in a way that led them well beyond the fairly simple and unproblematic explanations typically developed in school."

Brenner, M.E. (1994). A communication framework for mathematics: Exemplary instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse students. In C.E. Sleeter (Ed.), Language and Learning: Educating linguistically diverse students.Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Brenner presents a view of mathematics teaching and learning that emphasizes "effective communication as the intersection between the kinds of mathematics that we want students to learn and the ways in which we can reach culturally and linguistically diverse student populations." Her emphasis on communication builds on the notion that all learning takes place within a social context, and that effective mathematics learning is a process of enculturation into the discipline. She provides student-based examples from anthropological studies which show the need to examine changing norms of classroom discourse to enable students, particularly language minority students, to participate in a wider range of discourse styles. Finally, she moves beyond the classroom to consider how curriculum and institutional environments can contribute to facilitating communication in mathematics classrooms.

Garcia, E. (1992) Education of Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students: Effective Instructional Practices, Resources in Education, EDRS.

Garcia summarizes and analyzes some common attributes that recent descriptive research has documented in classrooms where language minority students have been particularly successful. Like Brenner, Garcia highlights the importance of effective communication in the classroom and of opportunities for students to work collaboratively in small groups. He describes the prevalence of an integrated approach to curriculum where "Students became 'experts' in thematic domains while also acquiring the requisite academic skills." Studies of language of instruction show that students made the transition from their own language to English without pressure from teachers to do so. Garcia concludes that "Instructional strategies that serve (linguistically and culturally diverse) students well acknowledge, respect, and build upon the language and culture of the home."

Rosebery, A. et al, (1992). Chèche Konnen: Scientific sense-making in bilingual education. Hands On!, 15, 1. Cambridge, MA: TERC.

Rosebery et al use the term scientific sense-making "to underscore [their] belief that scientific understanding is shaped by a community through scientific argument rather than received from authority....Rather than the orderly, logical, and coherent process that is described in science textbooks as the scientific method, actual scientific practice entails making sense out of frequently disorderly observations and negotiating among alternative interpretations." They describe how, in a 7th and 8th grade Haitian bilingual classroom, "what the students think - rather than what the text states or teacher thinks - is at the center of their activity. Students explore their own questions; design studies; collect, analyze, and interpret data; build and argue theories; evaluate evidence; and the like" (p. 16). These students discovered that students at their school tended to prefer the water from one particular fountain in the school. In order to account for the preference, the students designed and carried out an investigation which led them to some significant findings about water quality in the school and made "sense-making" the center of all their science activities.

Inquiry Learning

Duckworth, E. (1987). The having of wonderful ideas, pp. 70-82. New York: Teachers College Press.

Duckworth emphasizes the importance of time in constructing robust understanding of scientific phenomena. Using detailed descriptions of learning episodes with teachers and students, she makes a case for her belief that one major role for teachers is *to undo rapid assumptions of understanding, to slow down closure, in the interests of breadth and depth.* She concludes that *teachers are often, and understandably, impatient for their students to develop clear and adequate ideas. But putting ideas in relation to each other is not a simple job. It is confusing; and that confusion does take time. All of us need time for our confusion if we are to build the breadth and depth that give significance to our knowledge. * (p. 83)

Nemirovsky, R. (1993). "Don't tell me how things are, tell me how you see them". In R.S. Nickerson (Ed.), Technology In Education Series, pp.269-280. Hillside, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associated, Publishers.

Nemirovsky reminds us of all that an individual brings to a learning situation in terms of a sense of *wonder." He cautions us about the ways in which an *Official Explanation of Things* can suffocate wonder and effectively shut down inquiry. Expanding on the notion of *genuine inquiry*, Nemirovsky illustrates from his work interviewing children doing science how genuine inquiry can foster and build on the sense of wonder a learner brings, and lead him/her to explore the *edges* of his/her knowledge. We have found that encouraging genuine inquiry in the classroom have been important principles in allowing language minority students (and indeed all students) to flourish as learners. A focus on genuine inquiry tends to foster scientific and mathematical practices in the classroom that resemble more closely those that scientists and mathematicians engage in.

Teacher as Learner

Ball, D. (1991). What's all this talk about "discourse"?, The Arithmetic Teacher, pp.44-67.

Ball discusses some of the ways in which the Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics (NCTM, 1991) might be used to open up conversations about mathematics teaching and learning. Using an example from her classroom of her students learning about fractions, she illustrates the kinds of questions, considerations, and ways of thinking about her teaching practice that the NCTM Standards document raises for her. Ball writes: "...we must examine the language of our work with students, reflect on the direction and tone of class discussions, consider the time we allow students to explore and investigate -- all these endeavors are critical in achieving the discourse we foster." (p. 46)

Gallas, K. (1995). Talking their way into science, pp.7-15 and pp.17-31. New York: Teachers College Press.

Gallas begins the first chapter by presenting a view of science in contrast to the standard textbook view. In her view, science is dynamic and changeable, relies on talk, intuition and imagination, and is affected by the subjective lens through which scientists view their work, rather than a static discipline pursued by objective scientists discovering facts. She writes about her own relationship to science as learner, and how she'd like to make science more accessible to her students. In the second chapter, Gallas describes her discovery that the most exciting talk about scientific ideas among her students came about informally outside of her teaching role. Building on this discovery, she introduced what she calls "science talks", a particular kind of discussion of the students' own questions, which has evolved in her first grade classroom. She discusses how students participate in science talks and what she and her students learn from them. She describes how "the act of giving up overt control of the talks [as a teacher] takes time and determination, and is almost painful. One must trust that the act of talking about a question is an opening for much richer scientific explorations." (p. 19).