Creating Complexity in the Elementary Mathematics Classroom

Evan Throop Robinson


Complexity thinking provides a unique perspective on classroom interactions, student engagement and classroom management as well as insight into innovative pedagogies for teachers in the elementary mathematics classroom. A novel meeting strategy for classroom organization offers teachers the opportunity to observe complexity in action and to promote student participation through mathematical conversations thereby building the learning community and fostering the discourse of mathematics. The intervention of mathematical conversations created conditions for complexity in an elementary classroom and provided qualitative data for analysis. Transcripts and classroom mapping showed increased student engagement with students afforded more freedom, mobility and choice to host or participate in small-group conversations. An analytic framework indicated three types of conversations emerging: sharing information, building knowledge and exploring possibilities as well as instances of blocking behavior. Findings suggest possibilities for building student capacity for conversation skills, disciplinary integration and differentiating learning significantly for students.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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