Mathematics for teaching in a professional learning network: Complexity inquiry

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Wang, Xiong
networks , M4T , emergence , interaction , professional learning
Numerous mathematics teachers nowadays have turned to online professional learning networks (PLNs) to carry on their professional learning. Very few related studies have revealed the implications of mathematics teachers’ participation in PLNs for their professional development. This research is intended to address that gap by investigating participants’ actions in a blog and disclosing the emergence therefrom based on the model of Mathematics-For-Teaching (M4T). I analyzed the data from a blog and its comments concerning the discussion about the Handshake Problem from two textbooks under the interpretation circles developed from Ellis’ (1998) hermeneutics circles. The results exhibited a divergent conversation pattern and the emerged four-layer M4T. Participating in online PLNs involved individual and collective actions. Individual actions initiatively referred to posting comments. The comments related to the suggestions, expectations, visions, criticisms, experiences, and comparisons that induced the collective conversation. The collective conversation gave rise to the emergence of four layers of M4T: presentations of textbooks, students’ thinking skills, classroom conversation, and geometry learning. Their emergence indicated not only the professional knowledge but also the knowing of the Handshake Problem for the participants. The collective conversation, interaction, or communication enabled visualization of the roles of the individual actions played within and deepened understanding of the presentations of the Handshake Problem. The results pointed to implications for teachers’ participation in PLNs for their professional learning.
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