The Mathematics Enthusiast






The push for more student-generated explanations in K-8 mathematics classrooms, together with prospective teachers’ well-documented weaknesses in both providing adequate explanation and appreciating what constitutes a sound mathematical explanation, points to the need for more experiences for prospective teachers to formulate explanations of mathematical ideas before asking them to facilitate students’ explanations. Creating experiences for prospective teachers to wrestle with challenging mathematics and learn to elicit, develop, and evaluate mathematical explanations is a responsibility of mathematics teacher educators (MTEs) who teach content courses for teachers. Our work considers MTEs’ practices that encourage prospective elementary teachers to construct and critique explanations. Through examination of data from a professional development designed for MTEs, we identified what aspects of prospective elementary teachers’ mathematical explanations MTEs attended to while observing and discussing a math content course for prospective elementary teachers. From this study we identified five MTE practices that provide opportunities to engage PSTs in constructing mathematical explanations. Specific strategies for MTEs to implement these practices are shared and related dilemmas are discussed.

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