Carla, an English learner student who was in the Spanish bilingual program the year before, is working with Jerome, a fairly confident math student. Carla has written down an answer, 783 and explains to Jerome how she got her answer. Jerome, has a different answer on his page: 837. He explains his answer, and here is where an interesting thing happens: Although Carla is correct, she erases her answer, writes down his answer, and they continue working on the second part of the problem.
For my inquiry last school year, I chose to explore math partnerships because our math curriculum required students to work together in partners on tasks to solve word problems. At the beginning of the year, I noticed that when I told the students to work together, almost all of them worked on the task individually and hardly talked to or looked at their partner at all. A few students would get into small arguments and then refuse to work together. By mid-year, students seemed to be working together well, but the video data of Carla and Jerome, which I collected to look at with colleagues in our February Mills Teacher Scholars inquiry session, helped me see the complexity of what it really means to help students develop the Social and Emotional skills they need to grapple with content and construct new understandings together. Read more