Using Digital Clinical Simulations and Authoring Tools to Support Teachers in Eliciting Learners’ Mathematics Knowledge

Mathematics instruction that builds on student thinking has been linked to rich math learning environments and gains in student math achievement, yet it is challenging for teachers to find professional learning opportunities to develop these skills. Open-source digital clinical simulations with authoring features hold promise for supporting math teachers’ professional learning at scale, particularly around skills that can be developed with low-stakes, repeated practice before classroom implementation. We engage a cohort of 19
middle-years math teachers in a midsized urban district in a program to regularly play and design simulations
focused on eliciting learner math knowledge. Analysis of interview and simulation data revealed that teacher
performance in the simulation related to their self-reported description of math discursive practice. At baseline, most participants did not report attending to the work of deepening students’ reasoning as part of math instruction. Similarly, in the simulation, participants typically did not ask follow-up questions and instead
engaged with their students in ways aligned with initiate-respond-evaluate conversation patterns. This simulation may be a promising diagnostic tool to help teachers implement classroom discussions to promote
effective discursive practices. The paper concludes by discussing design implications for digital clinical
simulations that support teachers’ use of productive math talk.

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