Translating messages from curriculum statements into classroom practice: communication in Grade 9 Applied mathematics

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Lazarus, Jill Nicole
Mathematics education , Mathematics curriculum , Communication in mathematics
This qualitative case study describes how two teachers translate communication messages from curriculum statements into classroom practice. These illuminative cases illustrate the perspectives and practices of two teachers who support the spirit of the Ontario Mathematics Curriculum by working to implement communication in the Foundations of Mathematics (MFM1P), Grade 9, Applied course (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2005). Data for this study were collected from individual interviews with teachers, classroom observations, and document analysis. Grade 9 Applied mathematics teachers across Ontario indicate on surveys that they support communication in the mathematics classroom (Education Quality and Accountability Office, 2007; Suurtamm & Graves, in press). Despite evidence of support for this aspect of the curriculum, findings from this study point to a need for finer analysis of teachers’ perspectives and practices when it comes to communication in mathematics. The cases presented in this thesis illustrate different images, or meanings, associated with communication in mathematics. Furthermore, even in unique cases where the gap between curriculum developers and teachers images is minimal, the idealized vision of communication may not be realized in classroom practice since teachers may face challenges in implementation. The teachers report that despite additional challenges involved with implementing communication in Grade 9 Applied mathematics, teaching in this context can be a rewarding experience. To minimize the gap between images of communication that are translated from curriculum statements into classroom practice, findings from this study indicate that curriculum developers must find ways to help teachers understand the rationale behind curriculum initiatives. Future research might explore ways to help familiarize teachers with the theory and research underlying communication in mathematics. Research might also examine the impact that these initiatives have on teachers’ perspectives and practices.
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