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BEGINNING TEACHERS AND NON ROUTINE PROBLEMS: MATHEMATICS LESSON STUDY GROUP IN AN URBAN CONTEXT Hanna Haydar Brooklyn College- CUNY Haydar@brooklyn.cuny.edu Betina Zolkower Brooklyn College- CUNY BetinaZ@brooklyn.cuny.edu

This paper reports on a professional development and research initiative that engages a group of beginning middle school teachers in studying non-routine mathematics problems and investigates the effects of this intervention. Participants in this group engaged in the guided study of: a) non-routine mathematics problems, b) samples of students written work on NRP, c) sample mathematics assessments that include NRPs, d) case studies of NRP-centered mathematics instruction, and e) vertical analysis of various curricula. The study group improved teachers lesson planning but varied in the authenticity of using the NRPs among individual participants. An instructional design framework was developed linking the NRPs, the lesson and the unit of instruction. Background This study draws on data from a larger professional development and research initiative that engages beginning middle school mathematics teachers in a lesson study group and studies the effect of their participation in this in-service initiative on the quality of their mathematics lessons. Lesson study participants are teachers in their first years of service who work in hardto-staff, high poverty, urban schools. Our long term research goal is to explore the impact of participating in this study group on teachers practice and their retention in the high need schools were they work. In this report we describe how beginning middle school teachers interacted with lesson study activities centered on the solving, teaching, and learning of non-routine problems (NRP). Participants in this group engaged in the guided study of: a) non-routine mathematics problems, b) samples of students written work on NRP, c) sample mathematics assessments that include NRPs, d) case studies of NRP-centered mathematics instruction, and e) vertical analysis of various curricula. Theoretical Perspectives Influenced by the seminal work of Polya (1945), Schoenfeld (1985) and the NCTM focus on problem solving (1989, 2000), mathematics education researchers highlight the need for instruction to engage students in solving rich, challenging, high level, and open-ended tasks. Researchers might vary in how they refer to these problems based on their wide range of frameworks ranging from cognitive science to social constructivism and activity theory. The literature refers to these tasks as high level tasks (Stein et al., 1996), model-eliciting tasks (Lesh & Harel, 2003), realistic modeling problems (Verschaffel & de Corte, 1997), spiral tasks (Fried & Amit, 2005), and multiple-solution connecting tasks (Leikin & Levav-Waynberg, 2007). What is common among all the above types of problems, which we refer to as non-routine problems (NRP), is their valuable role in eliciting thinking and reasoning, communication, critical attitude, interpretation, reflection, creativity, and generalization, all of which are central to the activity of mathematizing (Freudenthal, 1991).
Swars, S. L., Stinson, D. W., & Lemons-Smith, S. (Eds.). (2009). Proceedings of the 31 st annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University.

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Yet there is increasing concern that in many classrooms, especially in those attended by minority and low SES students, instruction focuses almost exclusively on mechanical ways of applying algorithms and formulas to the solution of stereotypical word or story problems (Oakes, 2005; Boaler, 2002). The poor quality of mathematics instruction in schools attended by low SES and minority students is seen as a critical contributor to social inequality (Moses & Cobb, 2001) in that these groups of students are denied access to high level mathematical thinking as well as important pathways to economic and other enfranchisement (National Action Committee for Minorities in Engineering 1997; National Science Foundation 2000). It is well documented that teachers rarely make non-routine problem solving an integral part of their instruction (Henningsen & Stein, 1997; Silver, 2005; Leikin & Levav-Waynberg, 2007). Therefore, it is hardly surprising that students have difficulties with these kinds of problems (Verschaffel & de Corte, 1997; Cooper & Harris, 2002). A modality of mathematics instruction that focuses only on routine problems is seen as very unlikely to prepare students to successfully tackle and solve novel problems in and out of school settings. While this poverty of mathematics instruction could be blamed to a great extent to mandated curricula and standardized testing (Haydar, 2009), it is also a result of limitations in teachers appreciation of the educative value of those kinds of problems, their own level of comfort in solving such problems, and their ability to handle the pedagogical demands that this type of problem solving activity entails, in particular in orchestrating whole-class discussions about multiple strategies for solving a given problem (Silver et al., 2005; Shreyar et al., 2009). Mathematics teacher educators advocate the use of lesson study as a model of teacherinitiated and mentor-facilitated professional development (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999). Issues of adaptation of the lesson study model to the US context have been the subject of many recent studies (Fernandez & Yoshida, 2004; Lewis, 2002). However, we know little about how lesson study activities centered on non-routine problems affect beginning teachers planning and assessment skills, especially when in urban school contexts. This study is an attempt to fill some of these gaps. Research Questions In this research we aimed to explore to what extent and how does NRP-centered lesson study group increase participants ability to effectively incorporate non-routine problem solving into their classroom practice. In addition, our goal was also to use this Lesson Study group as a laboratory and draw insights on the design, try out and documentation, revision and dissemination of a sequence of NRP-based activities and materials for the professional development of middle school mathematics teachers. Methodology The participants in the Lesson Study Group (n=10) were either recent graduates or in their final year in a middle school mathematics masters program. They were within their first 5 years of teaching in hard-to-staff, high poverty, urban schools. They teach seventh to ninth grade mathematics in urban school settings attended by a predominantly African-American, Latino, Asian, and/or recent immigrant school population. All of them expressed in writing, as a response to the invitation letter from the researchers, their interest in, understanding of, and commitment to the proposed project. In line with what is typical to the Lesson Study modality of professional development in mathematics (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999; Fernandez & Yoshida, 2004), a central focus of the
Swars, S. L., Stinson, D. W., & Lemons-Smith, S. (Eds.). (2009). Proceedings of the 31 st annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University.

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sessions was the design, try out, documentation, revision, and write up of mathematics middle school lessons. More specifically participants were engaged in the following activities: Solving and studying NRP Selecting and sequencing from a list of NRP Designing NRP-based lessons Trying out, documenting, discussing NRP-based lessons Analyzing curricula in search for NRP Analyzing assessments in search of NRP Inventing, finding, adapting NRP Transforming a routine problem into a NRP Analyzing student work samples on NRP Parallel to the three face-to-face sessions, the pilot lesson study group project engaged participants in three a-synchronous on-line discussion boards via Blackboard. All Lesson Study sessions were audio and video-taped and a record was kept of all the asynchronous online discussion board contributions. Portions of these sessions were analyzed in search for evidence of an increase in participant teachers ability to: appreciate the value of NRP; solve and discuss alternative solution strategies for NRP; recognize NRPs in textbooks and assessments (as well as the lack thereof); design NRP-centered lessons, and organize NRP into a unit; and incorporate non-routine problem solving into their classroom practice. In order to be able to assess the effect of participating in the LSG for each individual teacher, we collected pre- and post data from each participant regarding: a) solving and explaining in detailed write ups their solution to NRP, b) selecting NRP from a given list of scrambled problems and sequencing those problems into a unit, c) transforming a routine problem into a non-routine problem, and d) designing a NRP-centered lesson for students in one of their classes for a given unit/topic. We also conducted a follow up, open-ended survey four months after the last Lesson Study session. Survey questions focused on their recollection of the most memorable moments of the lesson study, their narratives of what NRP-related elements they incorporated or planning to incorporate in their mathematics lessons and their interest in future engagement in similar professional development activities. In analyzing the above data, we looked for indicators of improved skills in studying, solving, and describing the solutions to NRPs as well as evidence of an enhanced ability on the teacher participants part to search for, design, adapt, and sequence NRPs. We developed a coding scheme based on the PISA cross-disciplinary problem-solving framework and Competency Clusters (OECD, 2003). To analyze the manner in which participant teachers incorporate non-routine problem solving into lesson planning we developed a lesson template based on the Japanese lesson study and its various adaptations (Fernandez & Yoshida, 2004). Snapshots from Lesson Study Sessions To illustrate how teacher participants typically engaged in NRPs during the lesson study group activities we present below snapshots from one of the sessions. These snapshots are paradigmatic of the kinds of conversations that occurred during the sessions. Participants worked on the cross-to-square problem (fig.1). We selected this problem as a rich context that includes
Swars, S. L., Stinson, D. W., & Lemons-Smith, S. (Eds.). (2009). Proceedings of the 31 st annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University.

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all the following features which we view as highly relevant to the classroom practice of middle school teachers: Conveyed through a diagram (invites diagrammatic thinking) A geometric dissection A constant area problem As a puzzle, it generates puzzling, puzzlement Linked to rotated or tilted squares (transformational geometry: from a square to a tilted square) Connection to Pythagoras theorem Lends itself to other related problems (other square dissection puzzles) Cross-to-Square Puzzle Divide the shape below into four parts that can fit back together to form a square

Figure 1. The problem was introduced during a brief whole-group exchange following a thinking aloud together modality (Zolkower & Shreyar, 2007). Framing the NRP BZ: Can we dissect this rectangle in three pieces so the pieces may be re-arranged into a square? (Draws a 2 by 8 rectangle on chart paper) A few minutes later Ms. E: I got it! It will give you a tilted square with an area of 8. BZ draws the tilted square and shows with arrows how it results from dissecting the rectangle. BZ: Easy, right? Now the real problem consists of dissecting this cross-like figure (Draws diagram) in four pieces so that the pieces may be re-arranged to make a square. Ms. S: How can this work?! BZ: What do you mean? Ms. S: I mean, if there are 13 squares. 13 is not...
Swars, S. L., Stinson, D. W., & Lemons-Smith, S. (Eds.). (2009). Proceedings of the 31 st annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University.

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Mr. H: Can we split the squares? BZ: Split them how? Mr. H: Cut them diagonally in some way BZ Draws a small square and splits it in half diagonally. BZ: What do you all think? Mr. Z: It wont work unless we cut the squares. Shifting the Context: From the LSG to the Classroom After the solution was found. Ms R: I have a question How do we help our students solve these kinds of problems? BZ writes Rs question on the board, crosses out 'help,' and substitutes it with teach.' BZ: I'd like to rephrase R's question: How do we TEACH students to solve these kinds of problems? What kinds of problems would they need to work on before tackling this one? Ms. G: Unless theyre familiar with the idea that a square can be tilted.... Makes a hand gesture to indicate tilted Ms. S: Also as soon as they see 13, they may think, like I did, its impossible to do it! BZ: Those two issues seem quite related, right? So it may beneficial to first engage students in activities that involve sketching and finding the area of tilted squares on graph paper, of course. From NRP to Pre-Requisite, Sub-Problem The above shift in perspective, from solving the math NRP problem to raising the question of how a problem such as this one could be introduced in a middle school classroom, led us to introduce a likely candidate for a pre-requisite (or sub-) problem (fig. 2).
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Figure 2. From Problems to Units And, in turn this was followed by an activity whereby participants were given a set of nine scrambled problems and asked to solve each of them, identify the mathematics in each of the problems then select three to five problems to make an instructional unit with them. They were also asked to justify their choice of problems for the unit as well as its sequencing.

Swars, S. L., Stinson, D. W., & Lemons-Smith, S. (Eds.). (2009). Proceedings of the 31 st annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University.

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Results The lesson study activities centered on NRPs proved to be a rich context for teachers engagement with mathematics, learning, and teaching. Our analysis of the data revealed the following Mirroring the classroom: By asking teachers to try out and report on both their own problem solving and their incorporating of NRPs in their classrooms, teachers developed a better understanding of what their students go through when they solve mathematical problems and led them to realize the importance of providing a challenging and, at the same time, supportive classroom environment. As one participant put it: The engagement in solving non routine problems so resembled what happens in my classroom. Students demonstrate different approaches as did we as teachers. The environment needs to be safe so that all feel comfortable to share. I also rediscovered my own strengths and weaknesses as a problem solver. The laboratory context: the participation in the lesson study encouraged teachers to experiment with incorporating non-routine problems in their classrooms and being able to experience gradual successes I have started incorporating NRPs occasionally in my class. I noticed that all my students are becoming more actively engaged and are asking if we are going to continue to do problems of that nature. Lesson planning improvement: As noted before, teachers showed improvement in planning sequences of related lessons: I am planning to continue the use of proper sequencing of lessons and use more NRP's. Analytical pedagogical tools: Working on NRP and analyzing curricular and assessment materials with respect to non-routine problem solving gave teacher participants tools for examining their classroom practices. For example one teacher noticed: Comparing and contrasting the different assessment forms and questions from around the world was most memorable to me. I found it very interesting and insightful to critique the NYS math curriculum in comparison to other countries Community of practice: Teacher participants found in the group a learning community and enjoyed the experience of being able to work with teachers who have a different method or strategy of presenting a lesson different from what [they] will usually do in [their] classroom. One teacher noticed how the group provided a structured time for collaboration and how other teachers became a resource: Not only did I have structured time to create a higher-level multitopic activity to complete with my class, but now I can take the other activities created by the other teachers back to my school and use them with my students in the future. School Leadership: One teachers played a leading role in replicating some of the lesson study activities at their schools. This participant wrote in a journal entry: Our professional development sessions at school are currently planned around solving non-routine problems as we wish to enhance teachers own skills (at their request). The analysis of the lessons planned by individual participants both at the beginning of the study and at the end of the sessions showed that participants: (1) moved from the brief isolated lesson formats to more complex ones that place the lesson in the context of broader unit of instruction; (2) made more effort after the sessions to include mathematical problems in their lessons; (3) The success in incorporating non-routine problems into classroom practice on a routine basis varied by individual participants. Also only two teachers introduced the non-routine problems systematically as authentic contexts for mathematizing while others often contrived some of the mandated curriculum standards to the problems.
Swars, S. L., Stinson, D. W., & Lemons-Smith, S. (Eds.). (2009). Proceedings of the 31 st annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University.

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Discussion Given that NRPs are challenging for students and given their rich mathematical content create the need for teachers to act as curriculum and instructional designers and locate a given NRP (Pn) with another that should precede (Pn-1) and/or follow after (Pn+1) , this vertical analysis constitutes the backbone for designing a unit of instruction based on NRPs. Also NRPs are analyzed and compared horizontally to problems from other mathematical strands. NRPs are by their very nature amenable to a variety of approaches. The chart in Fig.3 describes our framework on the relationship between NRP, other NRPs, Problem-based lesson and problembased unit. NRP-based Lesson study should guide teachers in relating and moving back and forth between these different instructional design dimensions. Other than the curricular side, NRP-based teacher education activities were also found to help teachers improve their ability to conduct classroom interaction.

Figure 3. Non Routine Problems require from teachers a connected understanding of mathematics where the isomorphic connections between the different mathematical strands and structures are
Swars, S. L., Stinson, D. W., & Lemons-Smith, S. (Eds.). (2009). Proceedings of the 31 st annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University.

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developed and used to solve the problem. The uneven results found in this study in how individual participants incorporated NRPS in their lessons are due in part to the level of comfort with NRP mathematical content and linked to participants disposition to try these in their classroom. Engaging teachers in NRP-based LSG proved to be a safe professional development modality strengthening teachers own mathematical and problem solving content knowledge and guiding that shift from thinking about incorporating non-routine problem as potential tasks that beginning teacher will only do after they become expert teachers to that belief that this is essential part of being a better reform mathematics teacher. References Boaler, J. (2002). Learning from teaching: Exploring the relationship between reform curriculum and equity. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 33(4), 239-258. Fernandez, C., & Yoshida, M. (2004). Lesson study: A Japanese approach to improving mathematics teaching and learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Freudenthal, H. (1991). Revisiting mathematics education, China lectures. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Haydar, H.N. (2009). Whos got the chalk? Beginning mathematics teachers and educational policies in New York City. Forum on Public Policy Online, Summer 2008 edition http://forumonpublicpolicy.com/summer08papers/curriculumsum08.html (accessed Feb 16, 2009) Lewis, C. (2002). Does lesson study have a future in the United States? Nagoya Journal of Education and Human Development, 1, 1-23. OECD. (2003). The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework. Mathematics, Reading, Science and Problem solving. Paris: OECD. Polya, G. (1945). How to solve It. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Schoenfeld, A. H. (1985). Mathematical problem solving. Orlando, FL: Academic Press. Shreyar, S., Zolkower, B., & Perez, S. Thinking aloud together: A 6th grade teachers mediation of a whole-class conversation about percents. Under review for Educational Studies in Mathematics Silver, E. A., Ghousseini, H., Gosen, D., Charalambous, C., & Strawhun, B.T.F. (2005) Moving from rhetoric to praxis: Issues faced by teachers in having students consider multiple solutions for problems in the mathematics classroom. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 24, 287-301. Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (1999). The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world's teachers for improving education in the classroom. NY: Free Press. Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M., & Becker, J. (2003). Towards a didactic model for assessment design in mathematics education. In A.J. Bishop, M.A. Clements, C. Keitel, J. Kilpatrick, and F.K.S. Leung (Eds.), Second international handbook of mathematics education (pp. 689-716). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Verschaffel, L., & De Corte, E. (1997). Teaching realistic mathematical modeling and problem solving in the elementary school: A teaching experiment with fifth graders. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 28, 577-601.

Swars, S. L., Stinson, D. W., & Lemons-Smith, S. (Eds.). (2009). Proceedings of the 31 st annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University.

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Zolkower, B., & Shreyar, S. (2007). A teachers mediation of a thinking aloud discussion in a 6th grade mathematics classroom. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 65, 177-202.

Swars, S. L., Stinson, D. W., & Lemons-Smith, S. (Eds.). (2009). Proceedings of the 31 st annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University.