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Mathematics and Literacy:

A Study in Reading Interventions in Math

Douglas D. Harrington

Literacy Learner Analysis Case Study Project (LLACSP)

MATC Program

College of Education

Michigan State University

TE 846: Accommodating Differences in Literacy Learners

Spring 2017
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Section 1: Project Focus, Background, and Reasoning

Virtually all struggling readers are victims of their schools. What causes reading

difficulties is the absence of sufficient high-quality reading instruction (Allington, 2011, p.

254). Expert teachers enacting highly-effective literacy strategies are the most direct remedy for

issues of literacy. In fact, research demonstrates that providing students with differentiated

instruction targeting specific identified needs provides consistent advantages for student growth

(Reutzel, Clark, & Flory, 2015, p. 384). Since teacher instruction is clearly integral to aiding

struggling readers, every content area instructor must consider the ways to foster effective

reading habits within students. In this section, I will detail the advantages of differentiated

literacy instruction and specific methods for utilizing mathematics to further students

development of reading abilities.

Differentiated literacy instruction effectively targets the base causes present in struggling

readers rather than simply treating the symptoms exhibited. Comprehension is distinctly

multimodal, requiring students to read, write, speak, listen, and view in the classroom (Fisher &

Frey, 2015, p.150). Therefore, it is problematic to persist in believing a single skill or process

adequately prepares students to decipher all forms of texts. Instead, secondary instructors must

consider the abstract nature of many discipline-specific texts (p. 151). In turn, it is clear students

must possess assorted skills to comprehend the variety of texts confronted in different content

areas. Initial primary literacy practices focused on syllable and phonemic awareness (Gambrell,

Malloy, Marinak, and Mazzoni, 2015; Griffo, Madda, Pearson, & Raphael, 2015); however,

readers struggling with comprehension often do so despite adequate word recognition skills

(Almasi & Hart, 2015, p. 224). The new standard must be differentiation with the knowledge that

processes involved in comprehending various genres are not isomorphic (Duke & Martin, 2015,
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p. 250). As a result, differentiation is the only practice that can accommodate and prepare

students for various subject-specific texts in schools.

In turn, differentiation prepares students to apply reading strategies that transcend content

areas. Differentiated instruction provides students with the opportunity to learn strategies and the

conditions under which the strategies are effective (essential to reading comprehension) (Almasi

& Hart, 2015, p. 229). Instruction highlighting both the action and purpose of given strategies

provides students with an algorithm for identifying the needs of given texts and the preparation

for applying proper technique. Duke and Martin (2015) highlight three characteristics of text

comprehension which can only be addressed through differentiation: comprehension is

significantly genre-specific; multiple factors affect students comprehension; and comprehension

develops over time (p. 251). Therefore, recognizing that different content-specific texts require

different reading strategies necessitates students developing strategic thinking. In this way,

students are able to address multifaceted needs for full comprehension.

In order for differentiated literacy instruction to foster student growth, the instruction

must, at first, be highly explicit in nature. In Kucan and Palincsars (2011) study, explicit

instruction, direct teacher introduction of reading strategies, provided greater growth for below

grade-level readers (p. 347). The teacher plays a crucial role in identifying and explaining the

need for specific strategies when students are engaging in a text. This does not mean whole-class

instruction, but a deliberate needs-based grouping of students provides an effective environment

(Duke, Pearson, Strachan, & Billman, 2011, p. 81). Interestingly, Duke et al (2011) recommend

a model which begins with highly structured, explicit teacher modeling of a particular strategy

that transitions slowly toward independent use of the strategy (p. 64). This model serves as the
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foundation for the planning behind my instructional sessions: highlighting, demonstrating, and

developing the skill until the student can employ the technique without supports.

Although mathematics and literacy instruction share foundational goals for student

development, care must be taken to ensure practices congeal. Kohler and Alibegovic (2015)

establish that the adoption of the Common Core State Standards represents a fundamental shift in

expectations for student understanding of mathematical concepts specifically, that students

construct a concept and identify relationships (p. 424). The authors prescribed closer attention to

concerns of comprehension and communication in light of vast assessment changes (p. 432). In

the paragraphs prior, I specifically highlight how these two factors are also at the heart of

effective literacy instruction. In fact, The reform movement may offer opportunities for literacy

educators to help math teachers combine literacy instruction with the regular teaching of

mathematics while accomplishing the goals set forth [by both] (Draper, 2002, p. 520). In this

negotiated space of literacy and mathematics, it is possible to increase students ability to predict,

monitor, and respond (p. 524). As I develop strategies to foster literacy in my mathematics

classroom, mobilizing cornerstones of my mathematics instructional practices can differentiate

the way my students engage with literacy issues.

Mathematics textbooks provide significant obstacles for student comprehension. First and

foremost, complete student avoidance of textbooks is a common phenomenon as is teacher

tendency to minimize the importance of its text (Weinberg & Wiesner 2011; Muth, 1993). The

abstract language of mathematics provides a multitude of complexities that are specific to the

content area (Alvermann, Gillis, & Phelps, 2013, p. 17). Specifically, students have trouble

accessing information due to the depth of technical language, assumptions about student prior

understanding, and the text being multisemiotic (Weinberg & Wiesner, 2011). Due to these
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concerns, Weinberg and Wiesner (2011) recommend a familiar remedy, demonstrating reader-

centered strategies through teacher modeling. Even with the variations mathematics imposes on

literacy issues, the most effective response is still a gradual release of responsibility to the

student. Part of this teacher modeling must focus on preparing students to effectively read these

dense texts. Massey and Riley (2013) highlight the need for mathematics teachers to help

students identify patterns of thinking inherent in mathematics textbooks (p. 578). By focusing on

how students can comprehend mathematical texts, I can empower an underutilized support

structure, the textbook, within the classroom.

Specifically, two deeper reading strategies are particularly valuable for aiding student

comprehension of mathematical texts. First, SQRQCQ (survey, question, reread, question,

compute, question) helps students decipher meaning within the unique structures of

mathematical texts (Barton, Heidma, & Jordan, 2002). This method seems to find its roots in the

SQ-3R (survey, question, read, recite, review) as illustrated by Jacobowitz (1988) and other

similar generic content reading strategies (SOAR, SQ-4R, etc.). In implementing SQRQCQ,

students are tasked with continually monitoring their thinking which reinforces comprehension.

A second method worth further exploration is Read-Think-Do(x2) which cycles students through

questioning their reading and connecting concepts to prior knowledge or experiences while, at

the same time, providing students with a study tool (Meaney & Flett, 2006). The connections

between these methods and previously presented theory are clear; however, in-depth summaries

of each method and many more are organized in Friedland, McMillen, and Hill (2011). As I

explain the background of my students literary history, these choices for reading strategies will

only become clearer.

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My own literacy instruction experience is currently limited to the information attained in

Accommodating Differences in Literacy Learners (TE 846) and preparation of this product. My

initial ignorance does not decrease the enormity of the importance of literacy in mathematics as

prior research establishes. In fact, as I progress as a highly-effective mathematics instructor, this

area of weakness is important to address. With a desire to be a teacher-leader in my community,

developing a vast depth of differentiated instructional routines is key to modeling the strategies

effectiveness to my colleagues.

Specifically, this project can help illuminate the importance of combining mathematics

and literacy instruction. Research shows mathematics teachers are generally unwilling to focus

on literacy issues due to concerns about responsibility, instructional time, and lack of training

(Draper & Siebert, 2004). By broadening the definition of literacy, increased importance is

placed on connections between literacy issues and establishing effective ways for students to

understand, represent, and communicate mathematical ideas (p. 955). By constructing a shared

perspective facilitating increased communication between math and reading instructors, teachers

can identify spaces in the mathematics curriculum where literacy resides. Leading by example

through the completion of this project, I aim to encourage mathematics teachers to increase

literacys value in instructional space. Increasing communication between subject areas validates

literacy strategies in ways that generic reading instruction cannot; therefore, this project should

help math teachers reorient their beliefs about literacy.

Finally, personal stories provide powerful motivation for teachers to change pedagogical

beliefs. In fact, Spitler (2011) presents a single mathematics teachers transition from resistance

to advocacy based on the following interpretation of Moje (2010): Content area research will

only be significant, and bring about change, if literacy researchers include the main actors (i.e.,
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teachers and students) and their beliefs in that process (p. 314). During the course of this

project, I am an actor in the exact play highlighted by Spitler (2011). By presenting my own

beliefs and documenting how those beliefs evolve through specific literacy instruction in the

mathematics classroom impacting interactions with a single student, I hope to bring significant

change into mathematics instructional discourse. Research clearly highlights the need for

effective differentiated literacy instruction by expert teachers and I aim to illustrate how that

transition happens and is attainable.

Section 2: Literacy Life Routines

The subject of this exploration of literacy learning is a 16 year old, white male, high

school sophomore, whom I will henceforth refer to as Anthony. The school district in which he

attends is known to be high achieving and boasts above-average standardized test scores;

however, Anthony scores significantly lower than his peers. In previous years, math teachers

identified him as in danger of failing and so he receives extra support and interventions in my

Geometry Lab course this year. The course runs in addition to the targeted students regular

Geometry course to ensure accelerated growth of mathematical skills so that students avoid

failure and ultimately graduate beyond support. Anthonys struggles are not limited to

mathematics particularly of interest, he passed English with a 64 percent while failing the

midterm exam.

Despite a history of low achievement, Anthony does not personally identify as a

struggling reader. In the past, Anthony received assessment supports of extended time and

alternate testing locations as mandated by his Individualized Education Plan (IEP), but, as of

high school, he no longer qualifies for services. During his pre-interview (Appendix A), Anthony
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believed past teachers would describe his reading ability as very good despite being

uninterested; furthermore, he reflected that he often has difficulty stopping once beginning to

read. In his own estimation, writing caused the greatest difficulty and it was these struggles

which led to his previous IEP (despite no accommodations provided specifically for writing

support). Although he has propensity for nonfiction sports stories, he acknowledged little time at

home was devoted to books.

In conflict with achievement, I observe Anthony reading almost daily. For the past

semester, I have opened my classroom during lunch so that students can have a quiet space for

solitude or an opportunity to seek advice. Every day, Anthony grabs his lunch, sits in his

assigned seat for the next hour, and pulls out his phone or a book. In retrospect, the time spent

between phone and book is probably equally split. Knowing his grade in English, I was surprised

to see him seemingly engrossed in reading. Over the course of a couple months, I questioned him

out of curiosity and it helped form my understanding of his perceived motivations and interests.

In Section 3, I will reflect on this at greater depth.

At home, Anthony typically engages in nontraditional literacy practices. By

nontraditional, I am referring to the prevalence of social media outlets (i.e., Twitter, Snapchat,

etc.) in which reading is foundational. At home, Anthony reflected that he spends close to two

hours browsing various stories and feeds with his parents following a similar pattern. Rather than

reading physical books, the vast majority of reading takes place on screens computers, phones,

and tablets. When asked about what his parents read, Anthony seemed unsure despite

commenting that he almost daily observes his parents reading for significant amounts of time.

This leads me to believe that few interactions surround issues of literacy at home. In this way,
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some parental modeling occurs, but I wonder to what degree as it appears no significant

assistance occurs.

Section 3: Perceived Motivation and Engagement

Anthonys perceived engagement in literacy is a complex scenario. Despite frequent

observations of Anthony reading books in class, his responses to Rhodys (1980) Secondary

Reading Attitude Assessment simply do not add up; each day, Anthony spends a significant

amount of time reading books that are not assigned for classes, but he strongly agrees that

reading is both a waste of time and boring (Appendix B). In response to my questioning,

Anthony revealed that his interest in reading is almost entirely dependent upon his interest in the

topic. Since he favors nonfiction sports writing, the novels explored in English class simply do

not hold his attention. Part of the issue here is that necessary and valuable reading material does

not always hold interest so perseverance needs development.

Motivation and interest in literacy practices is also equally challenging to ascertain.

Anthony highlights the practicality and context of nonfictional texts as his main motivator, but

remains noncommittal about using reading to broaden his interests. Furthermore, Anthony is a

fiercely independent worker and tries to solve problems on his own, but strongly agrees he

would rather have someone tell him the information so that he would not need to read for it

(Appendix B). Despite strong independent tendencies, his low-risk attitude may be a product of

past failures. Anthony mentioned feeling lost interpreting fictional writing because he failed to

see its connection to his life. Part of the reward for reading may be Anthonys perceived

application of the text to his everyday life. When he struggles to construct meaning, motivation

and interest are inherently depreciated.

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During my interview with Anthony, an off-the-cuff question snowballed into my focus on

research regarding mathematics textbooks and issues of literacy. While discussing what reading

is like in mathematics, Anthony pointed out that he had always struggled with word problems in

relationship to mathematics. Specifically, he mentioned the challenge of translating words and

phrases into symbols and equations. In response, I simply asked, How often do you read the

textbook when youre stuck on a problem? Anthony responded quickly, Never. I know that

mathematics textbooks are not inherently interesting to most people, but, for a student struggling

to understand mathematical topics, the textbook should be a hope for clarity; however, Anthony

never even considered the possibility.

In all, Anthony seems to demonstrate a hesitancy to engage fully with texts. Since his

motivation and drive are greatly affected by his ability to connect text to life experiences, an

emphasis on reading comprehension will cause gains in his engagement. Developing

comprehension strategies can help Anthony construct meaning from different genres of text.

When met with a challenging portion of text, specifically a word or phrase that he did not

understand, Anthony said he simply continues through the text. This method appears to severely

impact his valuation of texts and negatively impacts his desire to read. Since mathematics

textbooks are highly expository, it is no surprise that Anthony avoids using his textbook. By

utilizing the Textbook Reading/Study Strategies Inventory (Appendix C) as Anthonys first pre-

assessment, I can identify how to construct my instruction around SQRQCQ and Read-Think-

Do(x2) to increase his willingness to engage with and ability to comprehend mathematics

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Section 4: Literacy History

Anthonys literacy history is a complex story, as the previous sections have highlighted;

however, some major themes are apparent throughout his story. Since Anthony is completely

new to me and relatively new to the high school community, prior connections have been hard to

identify. As a result, I relied heavily on his ability to reflect productively on his learning

experiences in recent years as well as my own experiences as an educator in his school.

Unsurprisingly, Anthony had a hard time identifying any specific skills, especially by name, so

my explanation and analysis of the pre-assessment in Section 5 can help illuminate his history

further. Through informed deduction, I can offer some guiding generalizations about his

exposure to certain routines and strategies. The schools educational climate offers clues as to the

specific interventions and strategies Anthony has engaged with.

The current academic climate of Anthonys high school is sensitive to issues of literacy.

For the last three years, the continuous improvement goals, set by the school board,

administrators, and teacher-leaders, focused explicitly on reading comprehension. The

humanities have identified specific reading strategies to be explored and have focused much of

their instructional attention on closer reading of texts. In this way, the departments have helped

students interact meaningfully with primary sources. In the sciences, instruction focused on

developing student abilities to generalize observations and support conclusions with well-

prepared evidence through Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER). In my own department,

Mathematics, we aim to develop students ability to argue with mathematics and critique the

reasoning of others. In bridging the content areas, multiple departments have worked together to

cement Cultures of Thinking (CoT) (Ritchhart, 2011) routines as centerpieces of instruction.

Below, I explore some of the strategies which Anthony has been exposed to repeatedly.
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Although the CoT routines are not literacy-specific, many of the routines embed strong

literacy practices in their actions (which the presented research argues is more powerful

anyways). The goal of these instructional strategies or routines is to prepare students to self-

monitor their learning through expanded metacognition this process is referred to as making

thinking visible (Ritchhart, 2011). Since Anthony has experienced CoT continuously from

primary school to middle school, he is familiar with many of the routines (i.e. chalk talks, think-

pair-share, four corners, etc.), but Anthony did not reveal any connections between this content

and his reading development during our interview sessions.

Based on my knowledge of his diverse experiences with CoT, several generalizations

summarize his prior reading instruction. First, classroom instruction emphasizes the use of

questioning the author to identify central concepts and construct connections. Second, focused

personal reflection provides opportunity to summarize and synthesize knowledge to promote

skill retention. Finally, Anthony has endured major changes in formative and summative

assessments directly resulting from instructional shifts inherent in CoT. Anthonys pre-

assessment highlights the pervasiveness of these routines and will be discussed further in the

next section.

Section 5: Assessments and Results

Given the direction of our pre-interview, I found it necessary to identify methods to

mobilize the mathematics textbook as a support structure for Anthony. As stated previously, the

TRSSI provides a deeper look at the knowledge of various reading strategies centered on

textbook use specifically, perceived value, motivation, purpose, and frequency of use. The

inventory provided broad perspective to identify multiple skills while still focusing enough to
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highlight individual strengths and weaknesses. The obvious shortcoming of the assessment is its

reliance on Anthonys own perceptions of strategy use; however, since the purpose of this

instructional study is to increase the perceived value of reading comprehension strategies and

encourage their use, this deficiency can be rebranded as strength.

The results of the post-assessment will be used to demonstrate that targeted reading

instruction can increase the value of literacy in the mathematics classroom while also fostering

positive mathematics growth. By reutilizing the TRSSI as a post-assessment, I can track whether

Anthonys perceived value of reading instruction shifted as a result of the reading interventions.

Including a personal reflection allows Anthony to add nuance to the results of the TRSSI and

comment specifically on the perceived value of the two reading strategies explored during

instruction. However, both of these assessments fail to provide space for Anthony to demonstrate

his mathematics growth in quantifiable ways. As a result, I am aiming to include a mathematical

task focusing on application of the content and context explored through our reading

comprehension sessions. In this way, I can identify to what extent Anthonys reading

comprehension translated to computational ability the heart of both strategies, SQRQCQ and

Read-Think-Do(x2). Although a mathematical task cannot reveal how Anthony utilized his

reading comprehension strategies, enacting this post-assessment in concert with TRSSI and

personal reflection will emphasize and illuminate those connections.

On a general level, the TRSSI reveals that Anthony possesses some knowledge about

various strategies, but his knowledge does not equate to actual use. This reaffirmed the results

from earlier discussions with Anthony regarding his avoidance of the mathematics textbook

which directed my planning in that area. Anthony marked 18 of the 39 mentioned reading

strategies as somewhat familiar or very familiar, but only uses 7 of those 18 regularly (Appendix
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D). The inventory does not provide Anthony with space to demonstrate or explain why 11

familiar strategies are not used regularly. Specifically, it is of interest whether this is a result of

low perceived value or inability to apply the strategy effectively. As a result, I chose not to use

this information while designing my instruction. Instead, I chose to focus on strategies with low

familiarity and low use. As an example, Anthony highlighted conduct a chapter preview before

you read and read chapter introduction and summary before reading the whole chapter as

skills of low familiarity and low use (Appendix D). In this way, I am not working against the

possibility that Anthonys low use of a familiar strategy is a result of low perceived value;

instead, I am focusing on establishing the value of new strategies while also ensuring Anthony

knows how to use each effectively for comprehension. Below, I discuss which responses

specifically led to instructional decisions.

Anthony is currently unfamiliar with surveying as a reading comprehension method. On

strategies utilizing the textbook as a tool before close reading, Anthony does not select a

response above neutral: conduct a chapter preview before you read, read chapter introduction

and summary before reading the whole chapter, underline key concepts in the textbook, and

use study questions presented in the textbook to guide your reading or review of a chapter all

received responses of three or less (Appendix D). Furthermore, Anthony responded that he was

unfamiliar with multistep reading strategies as well (Appendix D). Based on this information, I

chose to highlight strategies which employ survey techniques and other skills which are valuable

prior to close reading of a text. As mentioned previously, close reading is a strategy which has

been a focus in the English and History departments. By stressing pre-reading, I aimed to help

Anthony develop a strong cache of complimentary comprehension techniques.

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In light of the emphasis placed on close reading in the school community, I am

unsurprised that Anthonys familiarity with and use of these strategies is much higher than the

rest. The most familiar strategies focus on rereading, connecting to prior knowledge, predicting,

and summarizing; despite high variance, his average response for actual use is 3.67 for these

strategies higher than most responses (Appendix D). In selecting, SQRQCQ and Read-Think-

Do(x2) as the foundational strategies of my instruction, I hope to capitalize on his familiarity

with rereading and predicting to emphasize the value of new techniques. With the model of

responsibility discussed by Duke et al (2011) in mind, I can already increase Anthonys

independence with rereading and predicting allowing him to develop ownership quickly and

capitalize on this motivation.

Although Anthony is more aware of using the textbook to practice, he avoids linking

strategies to computation. The following strategies were marked with a three for familiarity:

adjust your reading rate to your purpose for reading and the level of difficulty of material,

practice for tests using rehearsal, and use performance on first test in a class to adjust study

strategies (Appendix D). Unique to mathematics, computation and notation is an intricate part

of reading the text; this is important context for varying the reading rate to adjust to the material.

Furthermore, content from previous tests is often meant as prior knowledge for upcoming

chapters. In this way, tests can inform a student about whether that student is ready for the

material or not. I chose SQRQCQ because it specifically includes computation as part of its

process allowing the reader to gauge their proficiency while working through the text.

Finally, Anthonys own goals provided the foundation for my instructional plans. At the

conclusion of the TRSSI, the participant is asked to create three goals for improving their reading

and writing strategies. Anthony wrote, Highlighting and annotating textbook as his final goal
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(Appendix D). By the power of that statement, I decided that these two strategies can help him

reach that goal and exceed even his own expectations.

Section 6: Lesson Plan Overview

In Appendix E, full lesson plans can be found with all handouts given. Student artifacts will be

provided for the important literacy events in both lessons.

*Important Note: Although lesson plans are written as whole class plans, the implementation

occurred in one-on-one settings with the focus student designed to meet his specific needs.

Lesson Focus and Objectives Instructional Materials Ongoing Assessment

Focus: SQRQCQ The student will Chapter 10 from Big Ideas SQRQCQ Worksheet on
strategy and developing decompose complex Geometry Section 1 (Guided)
the vocabulary of shapes into simpler ones - Chapter 1
circles to solve a problem. - Chapter 2 SQRQCQ Worksheet on
Section 2 (Student Led)
Date: Week of 3/13 The student will use SQRQCQ Worksheet
SQRQCQ to identify SQRQCQ Survey
central facts about the SQRQCQ Reflection
definition of a circle and
organize a sample Completed Circle Task

Determine the central
ideas or conclusions of a
text; trace the text's
explanation or depiction of
a complex process,
phenomenon, or concept;
provide an accurate
summary of the text.

Determine the meaning of
symbols, key terms, and
other domain-specific
words and phrases as
they are used in a specific
scientific or technical
context relevant to grades
9-10 texts and topics.

The student will identify

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the relationship between

radii of an inscribed and
circumscribed circles of
right triangles. (The
student will make
connections between
through the use of

Analyze the structure of
the relationships among
concepts in a text,
including relationships
among key terms (e.g.,
force, friction, reaction
force, energy).

The student will construct

diagrams and sample
problems, during the
compute phase, to
highlight the application of
key ideas.

Translate quantitative or
technical information
expressed in words in a
text into visual form (e.g.,
a table or chart) and
translate information
expressed visually or
mathematically (e.g., in an
equation) into words.
Focus: Read-Think- The student will Chapter 10 from Big Ideas R-T-D(x2) Worksheet on
Do(x2) strategy and decompose complex Geometry Section 3 (Guided)
using radii to find shapes into simpler ones
perimeter with arc to solve a problem. Read-Think-Do(x2) R-T-D(x2) Worksheet on
length Worksheet Section 4 (Student Led)
The student will establish
Date: Week of 3/20 the meaning of arc length Running Around a Track I R-T-D(x2) Survey
and apply the definition to Task (Re-Do) R-T-D(x2) Reflection
solve through the use of
relevant problems. Running Around a Track II Completed Running
Task Around a Track I Task
LITERACY.RST.9-10.4 Completed Running
Determine the meaning of Around a Track II Task
symbols, key terms, and
other domain-specific
words and phrases as
they are used in a specific
scientific or technical
context relevant to grades
9-10 texts and topics.
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The student will employ R-

T-D(x2) to connect
perimeter, arc length, radii,
and angle measure to
reach deeper conclusions
about radians and length.

Analyze the structure of
the relationships among
concepts in a text,
including relationships
among key terms (e.g.,
force, friction, reaction
force, energy).

Section 7: Reflections and Conclusions

As mathematics education is concerned, I always understood the importance of mastering

my content; however, I never anticipated or expected that literacy mastery could improve student

growth in my own classroom. The storyline proceeded as follows: task, reading strategies, and

re-task without any formal mathematics instruction. Instead, all instruction focused two reading

strategies, SQRQCQ and RTDx2, providing access to and promoting understanding of

mathematics text. Guided instruction of the reading strategies occurred in this progression:

demonstration, student application (with immediate verbal feedback), and independent student

application. By examining evidence in this section, I highlight the ways in which the two reading

strategies impacted reading comprehension and promoted mathematics understanding while also

considering areas for professional improvement.

Anthonys perceived value of specific reading strategies increased due to the literacy

instruction. In the Post-Instruction Reflection Survey (Appendix I), the familiarity and use gains

for both reading comprehension strategies are tempered. Anthony is neutral about his

understanding of the SQRQCQ routine and its effects on comprehension and is less positive
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about its abilities to be applicable independently. While he is more confident in his

understanding of RTDx2, he is still reserved about its application to future situations as well.

These conclusions are supported by low scores for use of the strategies on his own as well as

applicability (Appendix I). The TRSSI challenges these conclusions substantially. An overall

positive tone in the TRSSI appears to conflict with the neutral position Anthony takes in his

reflection; however, the inconsistency speaks more towards issues of motivation than serving to

invalidate results. (I will touch on this tension in later paragraphs.) On the pre-assessment,

Anthony highlighted seven strategies as worthy of repeated, actual use, but, by the end of

instruction, he identified 20 strategies in that same range (Appendix J). Specifically, Using

multistep reading strategies such as SQ3R is noted as a four for Familiarity and three for

Actual Use with original scores of one in both categories. Strategies identifying preview and

review skills, at the heart of SQRQCQ and RTDx2, also experienced major gains in both scores.

As an example, Conduct a chapter preview before you read and Read chapter introduction

and summary before reading the whole chapter also featured multi-point gains in familiarity and

actual use (Appendix J). Since these skills are interwoven into the reading comprehension

strategies, it unsurprising to see growth in these areas as well.

The literacy plans did not increase Anthonys motivation to engage with technical texts.

Despite an initial interview which revealed that Anthonys reading is greatly influenced by

personal interest, I opted to go in a different direction. Mathematics textbooks are often viewed

as a classroom resource but, as previously explored, feature very technical language. Therefore, I

decided to build instruction around mathematics textbooks rather than personal interest given the

prominence these texts are given in mathematics classrooms. Initially, I hoped that deeper

understanding provided by these strategies would serve as motivation, but it clearly did not. In
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explaining possible improvements for each strategy, Anthony focused on the effort-level each

method required rather than the application. Specifically, he cited making the process easier for

SQRQCQ and reducing the number of steps in RTDx2 (Appendix I). Although his artifacts from

the lesson demonstrate effort based on the completeness and depth (Appendix G; Appendix H), it

is interesting to consider how disinterest could affect future learning. In fact, this disengagement

complicates whether his reading struggles stem from a lack of perseverance or substantial

misconceptions. Based on his ability to apply the strategies effectively as demonstrated by

Appendix G and Appendix H, I believe the former is more accurate. Furthermore, Anthonys

mathematics understanding increased substantially despite limited motivation.

Clearly, the literacy practices furthered mathematics understanding and vice versa.

Without explicit mathematics instruction occurring at any level during the process, Anthonys

growth in applying mathematical concepts serves as a lens for understanding his literacy growth.

During his initial attempt at Running Around a Track I, Anthony did not make use of

prerequisite properties of circles, notably circumference is twice the radius multiplied by ,

when calculating the perimeter of the track (Appendix D). While enacting RTDx2, however, he

correctly records this relationship, = 2, during the first Think phase before applying it

later in the problem (Appendix I). The RTDx2 strategy provided Anthony with the structure to

recall previous knowledge and the opportunity to revise his previous solution without a

mathematics intervention. Instead, the reading comprehension strategy facilitated correcting

misconceptions and guiding Anthonys application of correct knowledge. By connecting

concepts, he extended this thinking to attempt solutions in a new area, Running Around a Track

II (Appendix I). Although his answer to Part C is limited, RTDx2 would provide him the context

to revise his thinking again, continuing the process. Since the reading comprehension strategies
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reframed the problem and furthered Anthonys mathematical thinking, he clearly progressed in

his ability to apply those strategies. In fact, literacy provided a framework for mastering

mathematics content which supported Anthonys literacy growth.

The gradual release of responsibility model effectively increased Anthonys reading

comprehension. Although modeling is not a foreign instructional practice, demonstrating the

reading strategies in action felt awkward, like taking too much opportunity out of his hands.

Each lesson began with teacher modeling before transitioning to guided exploration culminating

in independent application. Based on his artifacts, his work was strongest during teacher-led

modeling, weakest during the transition of responsibility, and rebounded during application

(Appendix G; Appendix H). Unsurprisingly, this highlights the progression of ownership and

motivation demonstrating moderate growth. In order to successfully transition between phases,

constant and immediate verbal feedback was required. Written feedback at the culmination of

each phase could have reinforced each strategy notice the absence of written comments in the

student artifacts (Appendix G; Appendix H). Since the release of responsibility is a timely

process, I sacrificed feedback to make sure the instruction fit the given timeframe. This process

represents an area for professional growth.

Without a longer timeframe, reflection proved to be an inconsistent form of assessment.

With only two sets of data derived from the TRSSI, asking a student to reflect on the before and

after can be skewed by present experience. Based on the post-assessment, Anthony experienced

increased familiarity and actual use with strategies not specifically addressed by my instruction.

Specifically, Anthony noted Use mnemonic or memory systems to remember information for

tests, and Set goals and schedule for study sessions all increased in familiarity as well as

actual use (Appendix J). Although this could be the result of instruction in other courses, the
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three-week timeframe does not provide much opportunity for such wide-ranging differences.

This is not a condemnation of drawing conclusions from the data, but it does raise questions

about specifics and accuracy. By increasing the number of reflections as well as the window for

measurement, a better aggregate could be developed to form conclusions. Therefore, it must be

understood that when dealing with student perceptions more variance can occur based on myriad

circumstances. In the future, more data collection can help alleviate uncertainties in conclusions.

In line with developing more rigorous assessment, increasing the timeframe for study

would be beneficial. Teaching new reading comprehension strategies through the use of the

gradual release of responsibility model is time intensive. Although I planned approximately six

sessions to meet, the lessons extended over 10 sessions in length. Rather than choosing to rush

through modeling or guided exploration, I extended those phases to aid Anthonys development.

In doing so, I confined his opportunity to independently explore the comprehension strategies

and limited my chances to provide feedback on his individual efforts. I mentioned previously

that mathematics teachers often cite limited time as the major deterrent for exploring issues of

literacy in the classroom and my results seem to support this claim; however, it is imperative to

remember that intertwining mathematics content with the literacy instruction allowed Anthony to

master challenging mathematics content simultaneously. As I reflect on areas for growth, a

greater familiarity with teaching these reading strategies can help me limit the time required and

be an effective advocate for literacy instruction across content areas.

Another area for continued development and growth centers on providing continuous

feedback during the gradual release model. In an effort to maximize the time spent together,

Anthony completed the independent attempts on his own. As a result, feedback was present only

at the beginning of the process and trailed off towards the end. In fact, this is the opposite
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direction feedback should have gone. As I model the strategy, feedback is not necessary as I am

checking for his comprehension rather than providing guidance. Instead, as the responsibility of

action shifted towards Anthony, I should have increased my feedback as I also stepped further

away from the action. This speaks to the value of increasing the time spent exploring new topics.

With a lack of continuous feedback, I failed to reinforce the mathematical content and Anthony

could have missed important concepts necessary for Running Around a Track. Instead, the

reading comprehension strategy reintroduced the concept; however, this is more of an exception

than a rule and could have resulted in continued misconceptions for another student.

Motivation did not noticeably increase as a result of the instruction. Technical reading

cannot simply be discarded every time a student is disinterested because technical texts are

integral to so many occupations. Anthonys distinct lack of motivation surfaced as short

explanations and a focus on trivial aspects of each strategy (Appendix I). So, if the texts cannot

be changed, how can interest be increased? By changing the context of the problem being

explored, I can necessitate the use of technical texts. Rather than employing the Running Around

a Track tasks, I can develop a context based on Anthonys own wonderings about a circle or its

properties. In many ways, textbooks are decontextualized knowledge and providing an

interesting question without an immediate answer is an effective way to motivate the need for the

text. In application, this process is not complex, but the time required to develop these driving

questions and conundrums would be significant. Therefore, sharing responsibility amongst a

group of colleagues is a great development strategy. To capitulate to a lack of interest and

remove technical texts is to rob students of a skill necessary for continued life success. Instead,

identifying a way to redefine, repurpose, or rebrand the textbook might make a world of

difference. This topic is worthy of future research.

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Section 8: Personal Recommendations

To Guardians and Teachers of Anthony:

Over the last month, Anthony has identified, practiced, and applied two reading comprehension
strategies, Survey-Question-Read-Question-Compute-Question and Read-Think-Do(x2), to
unpack mathematical texts. Due to the technical nature of the texts, these strategies help students
organize their thinking into distinct phases. Despite the focus on mathematical content, the
routines can be applied to any technical text and provide the opportunity to connect past
knowledge to new knowledge to reach new conclusions.

Anthony continuously demonstrated adaptability and flexibility in exploring these new

comprehension methods. He is fiercely independent and possesses dependable problem-solving
skills; however, these strengths are severely influenced by his interest and engagement.
Anthonys greatest obstacle to understanding is his inconsistent perseverance in the face of
personally uninteresting topics. Identifying routines and contexts which promote his fullest
motivation are incredibly important.

In the future, focusing on the inherent connections between content and areas of natural interest
will overcome Anthonys weakness of perseverance. In particularly, creating a routine for
developing independent connections will help Anthony succeed even when texts do not clearly
link to practical needs. Continued emphasis on preview and review strategies can help reinforce
the mastery of mathematical concepts while also developing skills applicable across content

Since many positive habits and routines are enhanced by Anthonys reading of texts with
personal interest, it is imperative that his desire to read is nurtured and encouraged; in fact,
primary technical sources may provide increased motivation in ways that textbooks do not.
Specifically, many primary mathematical documents provide greater context and intrigue
surrounding concepts which can work in concert with Anthonys practical nature. For example,
exploring Euclids Elements sheds light on the necessity for mathematical structure while also
providing instructional examples.

Warm regards,

Douglas Harrington
Mathematics Instructor
Athens High School
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Section 9: Appendices

Appendix A: Interview Questions and Notes

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Appendix B: Basic Reading Attitudes Survey

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Appendix C: Pre-Assessment
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Appendix D: Pre-Assessment Results

TRSSI Pre-Assessment
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Mathematics Task Attempt

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Appendix E: Lesson Plans and Handouts

SQCQRQ Lesson Plan

Date: Week of 3/6/2017

Students will use SQRQCQ to identify central facts about the definition of a circle in the textbook
chapter and organize a sample solution in a given problem.

Students will identify the relationship between radii of an inscribed and circumscribed circles of right
triangles. (The student will make connections between concepts/definitions through the use of

Students will construct diagrams and sample problems, during the compute phase, to highlight the
application of key ideas.

Students will decompose complex shapes into simpler ones to solve a problem.

Identify and describe relationships among inscribed angles, radii, and chords. Include the relationship
between central, inscribed, and circumscribed angles; inscribed angles on a diameter are right angles;
the radius of a circle is perpendicular to the tangent where the radius intersects the circle.
Construct the inscribed and circumscribed circles of a triangle, and prove properties of angles for a
quadrilateral inscribed in a circle.

Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a
complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they
are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.

Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key
terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).

Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a
table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into

This content unifies two disciplines: mathematics and literacy. Students will establish a strong
foundation of terminology and basic skills regarding circles to be able to use in novel ways to reach
unique solutions. The next lesson will focus on weaving together perimeter and radius to solve for
intriguing answers to a problem involving track and field sports.

SQRQCQ provides a perfect vehicle to explore a chapter and apply to a challenging mathematics task
requiring terminology obtained from reading. The student will be pushed to apply the same reading
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strategy to various texts and reflect upon its usefulness in multiple contexts.

Although the mathematics is not being explicitly linked to the students lives in this lesson, the concepts
are being explored intentionally to meet CCSS mathematics standards involving inscribing
circles/triangles and set up the next exercise involving track and field. The next lesson should cement
the important application of todays concepts while also highlighting new relationships.

Necessary Materials:
SQRQCQ Handout
Big Ideas Geometry textbook
Inscribing and Circumscribing Right Triangles Lesson Plans from Mathematics Assessment Project)
Inscribing and Circumscribing Right Triangles Task
Circle Theorems Handout
Circles in Triangles Task
Running Around a Track I Task

Lesson Structure Support

LAUNCH: 15 minutes
Todays lesson will focus on exploring a reading strategy that we Organizing the Word Flood is
can use to obtain more useful information from the textbook and designed to provide students
become more successful in solving challenging math problems. As with a visual reminder of prior
our mathematical understanding increases, Id like you to think knowledge (and expectations of
about how the SQRQCQ strategy helped you or did not. prior knowledge). As a
reference, the flood can be used
The mathematics that we are focusing on today is highlighted by to highlight important topics
Chapter 10 Section 1 out of the Big Ideas book. We will see how while performing the SQRQCQ
our previous knowledge of circles can be explored in greater depth. strategy for the textbook.

By the end of todays lesson, Id like us to be familiar with the The flood should be recorded on
purpose and action of the SQRQCQ strategy and have employed the projector and distributed to
the strategy while solving a challenging problem. students at its conclusion.

Before we start, lets create a Word Flood for circles with everything Explanation about the intent and
we know. purpose behind a word flood
may be necessary if the student
struggles at first. Highlighting the
similarities to brainstorming for a
paper may prove useful.

Students will complete a first attempt at the Circles Task at this At this time, no supports will be
time. The skills may not be mastered, but an initial attempt provides given as this is meant to provide
valuable feedback to both the teacher and students. The teacher a baseline for which to measure
can identify what prior knowledge is strong/weak in comparison to growth during the lesson
the word flood and the students can identify the areas in need of against.

After the task, the basic outline of the SQRQCQ will be highlighted. To help students grapple with
Students will read the steps to the strategy out loud and the concept of SQRQCQ, the
handout will be distributed at this

In order to help students

establish meaning, summarizing
the purpose of each section of
the SQRQCQ handout is
necessary student re-voicing is
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crucial here to analyze what

misconceptions may be present
before demonstrating the skill.

EXPLORATION: 75 minutes
Event 1: Textbook Exploration (25 minutes)
In order to improve our solutions to the Circles Task, we should This action is necessary to
make sure our understanding of circle vocabulary is strong. highlight why SQRQCQ is as
Looking at the word flood tells us ______________ (make sure to central to the lesson as the
highlight areas of strength and weakness). mathematical content to be
explored. It is nice to begin with
A focused reading of the chapter can help us review the important prior knowledge as students
terminology and fill in any holes in our understanding. Ill developing new knowledge while
demonstrate the SQRQCQ process for the chapter, to help you also learning a new reading
along the way. strategy may be complicated.

In order for modeling to be

The purpose of this transition is for students to see the value in the effective, the document camera
SQRQCQ method before I begin modeling the steps. At this point, must be used to demonstrate
students will pull out their textbooks and I will walk through section what I am writing while I am
1 applying SQRQCQ as we go. The class will be listening as the writing/reading it.
section is read out loud during this portion.
To help students engage and
support their learning, the
section of the chapter will be
read aloud during the Read
phase of SQRQCQ. I will also
make use of student re-voicing
to informally assess what
students are valuing during this
event - summarizing each
portion before moving on and
highlighting the steps taken.
The steps will go as follows: survey, question, read, question,
compute, and question.

Event 2: SQRQCQ and Circles Task (50 minutes)

During this time, we will apply the SQRQCQ technique to a new SQRQCQ is meant to be the
scenario: the task that students worked on at the beginning of the main support in this event. To
class period. This will be a teacher led discussion with increasing help students, I will walk through
responsibility placed on the students to complete the SQRQCQ the questions, but the responses
handout. will be their own.

The task that youre looking at should look familiar. What was the
objective of the task?

We will be working together, as a class, to improve our solutions. As I transition to this new event,
We will be trying the SQRQCQ strategy to help us organize our I will pass back their previous
thinking, apply our content knowledge, and reach a sensible attempt as a reference point. I
solution. will also pass out another blank
copy of SQRQCQ handout for
them to use.

As you look over the problem, what key aspects did you notice the The Common Issues/Suggested
first time? What phase were you working in (SQRQCQ)? How did Questions and Prompts section
you know? of the lesson plans provide a
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wonderful framework for

How did/does the diagram provided aid your thinking? What phase students experiencing difficulty.
of the strategy are we in if we are looking at the diagram to find
meaning? How did you know?

How do we know when we have completed the task?

How has our thinking changed as we complete the task?

Event 3 (Post Summary): Circles in Triangles Task

This event will be used a formative assessment to measure the
growth of the students abilities to utilize properties of triangles and
circles to solve in comparison to their first attempt.

SUMMARY: 10 minutes
How did SQRQCQ help us understand the topics presented in the
How did SQRQCQ help us complete the task?

How did SQRQCQ change when we used it for the task rather
than the textbook? For which scenario was the strategy more

Students will complete a Likert-scale survey rating the perceived

value of the SQRQCQ strategy and its usefulness for
understanding textbooks/problems. Students will also complete a
personal reflection.

ASSESSMENT: 15 minutes (for Circles in Triangles Task)

Informally, I will be paying attention to the specific descriptions
students provide for each phase of the SQRQCQ process. When
they are asked to apply the technique to a problem, I will be
listening to their explanations of each step making sure to look for
their justification as evidence of their understanding.

Students will work through the Circles in Triangles Task at the end
of the lesson. I will know that students have met the objectives if
terminology is used correctly throughout their attempted solution.

The personal reflection can be used to identify whether the

students valued SQRQCQ and can be used to predict whether the
student may be inclined to use the strategy again.

Read-Think-Do(x2) Lesson Plan

Date: Week of 3/13/2017

Students will decompose complex shapes into simpler ones to solve a problem.

Students will model a real-life scenario with mathematics through the use of circles and rectangles.

The student will employ R-T-D(x2) to connect perimeter, arc length, radii, and angle measure to reach
deeper conclusions about radians and length.
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Identify and describe relationships among inscribed angles, radii, and chords. Include the relationship
between central, inscribed, and circumscribed angles; inscribed angles on a diameter are right angles;
the radius of a circle is perpendicular to the tangent where the radius intersects the circle.

Derive using similarity the fact that the length of the arc intercepted by an angle is proportional to the
radius, and define the radian measure of the angle as the constant of proportionality; derive the formula
for the area of a sector.

Use geometric shapes, their measures, and their properties to describe objects (e.g., modeling a tree
trunk or a human torso as a cylinder).*

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are
used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.

Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key
terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).

The central task in this lesson requires students to analyze, quantify, and justify the relationship between
arc length and increasing the radius of a circle. In order to do so, students must access knowledge from
the previous as well as incorporate new knowledge obtained from the next section in the textbook. By
utilizing a new reading comprehension strategy, I hope to improve students mathematical understanding
while also reinforcing the value of a new strategy. As students decompose the oval track into simple
shapes, T-R-D(x2) provides a nice vehicle to model why partitioning the track makes the problem less

Since students are adding depth to their circle vocabulary with arc length, sectors, tangents, and angular
velocity, this comprehension strategy is appropriate. Close reading of the chapter and task should build
greater understanding and provide the knowledge necessary to extend learning into the new areas
required by the task.

Necessary Materials:
Big Ideas Textbook
Read-Think-Do Handout
Running Around a Track I Task
Running Around a Track II Task

Lesson Structure Support

Play clip of relay events from the last Olympic Games. After the clips of the races are played, I
What is the best strategy for running a long-distance race? will encourage students to search the
Why? How do you know? internet for facts regarding the specific
How far does a runner actually run in 800m race? instructions for constructing an Olympic
Try to justify your conclusion. track.

By utilizing this context and posing a question that may have

different opinions, a debate which can only be settled with
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mathematics is born. As a result, students are highly

interested and engaged with the material. The catch is that
student do not possess all the necessary information to offer
a strong opinion. Therefore, exploring new text is extremely

How did we make sense of the textbook in the last lesson?

What were some strengths/weaknesses of SQRQCQ?

Today, we are going to look at a new method for making As we review SQRQCQ, I will bring up
sense of text called Read-Think-Do(x2). Like our work with the handout on the Smartboard. This
SQRQCQ, I want us to apply it in a couple different contexts time, none of the areas will be filled in
so that we can decide when and where the strategy is and instead, the students will inform me
valuable. Any thoughts as to what R-T-D(x2) might entail? on how to summarize each step.
How do you think it will be similar to SQRQCQ?
This discussion will take place before I
pass out the DTR(x2) handout so that I
can hear student hypotheses first. After a
short discussion, I will pass out the
handout and gauge how their thoughts
have changed and why.

EXPLORATION: 60 minutes
Event 1: Textbook Exploration (20 minutes)
What specific information do we want to be paying attention
to as we read the chapter? The goal is to link the launch
problem to the chapter to help orient our thinking before

During this time, I will be modeling the RTD(x2) strategy Students will have an empty DTR(x2)
through the second section of the chapter. I will make sure to worksheet to complete as they follow
think out loud and record my answers on the document along.
camera so students can follow my thinking. Since students
are familiar with the SQRQCQ process now, I will be asking Students will be asked to explain why I
students to compare what I am demonstrating with the chose certain key facts/ideas/concepts to
method. I am looking for specific knowledge about the record. They will re-voice my thinking
SQRQCQ strategy and the ways in which students try to and their own.
justify the similarities.

During this time, I will highlight arc measure, arc length,

angles measured in degrees/radians, and tangents.

Event 2: Student-Led Textbook Exploration (20 minutes)

Since section 2 doesnt cover all the information needed to

reach a smooth solution to the track problem, Id like to see
you demonstrate the RTD(x2) strategy on section 3. I will play
the referee simply keeping action on task and moving

Lead a discussion about each action in the strategy before To aid this exploration, slides should be
encouraging students to take part. Read - Highlight specific prepared to summarize student thinking
answers and make sure to touch on what information the and encourage engagement.
section is supposed to give. Think Highlight the previous
information that is needed as well as how the topics are Blank copies of R-T-D(x2) handout
Harrington 35

connected. Do Highlight notes and exemplars. Read

Highlight how the notes should lend themselves to prior Read
and Think actions. Think Highlight what was necessary for
understanding. Do Highlight discussion and revision.

Event 3: Running Around a Track I (20 minutes)

Lets see if our information can be used to determine a

solution. Id like you to try R-T-D(x2) with the problem. Ill
circle around and act as life preserver.

Students will work on the task in small groups or individually.

The teacher will circle the class paying attention to I need to be careful not to provide
mathematical misconceptions and engaging in discourse instructional support regarding the
about how students are using D-T-R(x2) comprehension strategy. The goal is to
reduce the support gradually so that I
can observe what work students are
doing and in what ways. Instead,
focusing on the mathematics allows me
to see how students are translating the
knowledge from sections two and three
into solutions.
SUMMARY: 15 minutes
What conclusions did you reach based on the task?

How did the reading strategy help us complete the task?

How would you compare todays strategy to SQRQCQ?
Which would be best in this scenario? Why?

Students will complete a survey and personal reflection on
their engagement with the R-T-D(x2) strategy, making sure to
comment on how the strategy affected the outcome of the
task in their eyes.

Running Around a Track II will be used to measure the

students abilities to apply the mathematical content explored
during the lesson.
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Appendix F: Handouts
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Appendix G: SQRQCQ Instruction Session Artifacts

Pre-Instruction Student Attempt

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Teacher-Led Attempt
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Student Attempt (Post-Instruction)

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Appendix H: RTDx2 Instruction Session Artifacts

Teacher Led Exploration Student Notes

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Student-Led/Teacher-Instructed Attempt
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Appendix I: Post-Instruction Mathematics Assessment (Using RTDx2)

Read-Think-Do (x2) Application

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Student Solution

Running Around a Track I

Running Around a Track 2

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Appendix I: Post-Instruction Reflection Survey

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Appendix J: Post-Instruction Assessment (TRSSI)

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