Funded Grants

Understanding Teacher Change and Teachers as Learners in K-12 Classrooms


Understanding How Elementary Teachers Take Up Discussion Practices to Promote Disciplinary Learning and Equity


Grantee: Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Project Manager: Lynsey Gibbons, Ph.D.
Grant Title: Understanding How Elementary Teachers Take Up Discussion Practices to Promote Disciplinary Learning and Equity
Program Area: Understanding Human Cognition
Grant Type: Teachers as Learners
Year Awarded: 2017
Duration: 5 years

Project Summary:

Our project seeks to understand how teachers learn to use classroom discourse in service of two goals that may be mutually supportive or in conflict: (i) engaging students in deep discipline-based learning, and (ii) disrupting transmissionist views of knowledge that assign capability to students based on how they demonstrate privileged ways of speaking, reasoning, and knowing. Researchers have identified key discussion moves that position all students as capable and simultaneously support deep disciplinary learning. However, we do not yet know how teachers learn to do the complex work of using these practices to simultaneously achieve equity-related and discipline-related goals.

The work of elementary teachers involves added complexity, because these teachers must learn to orchestrate talk across several disciplines. While researchers in mathematics, English Language Arts (ELA), and science education have identified discipline-specific discussion moves, little is understood about how elementary teachers make sense of, coordinate, or experience contradictions in their development of discussion practices across content areas. This work is essential for understanding teacher learning and designing effective professional learning environments. We propose a study with two phases. Phase 1 will develop a description of the complexity that elementary teachers manage as they elicit and work with students’ ideas in discussion within and across the three disciplines. Phase 2 is a design study of teachers’ professional learning. We will co-design a professional learning model with district and school leaders to examine how elementary teachers learn to orchestrate discussion across the content areas while surfacing and discussing issues related to equity.

  • Project Manager: Lynsey Gibbons, Boston University
  • Andrea Bien, Boston University
  • Eve Manz, Boston University
  • Catherine O'Connor, Boston University
  • Beth Warren, Boston University
  • Anne Wilhelm, Southern Methodist University
  • Ann Rosebery, TERC
  • Eli Tucker-Raymond, TERC
  • Linda Davenport, Boston Public Schools