The goal of the interviews is to better understand where students are in relationship to the Research Theme and Content Goal. Interviews help us anticipate what dispositions and strategies students bring to the lesson.
In later stages of the research lesson process, interviews may be used to try out parts of the lesson. After the lesson is taught, students may be interviewed for: clarification of their thinking during the lesson, assessment of progress being made with focus students, and/or uncovering of student perceptions of what was learned.
Often test results tell us that students don't understand, but we don't know why, whether it is a learning gap, fragile understanding, or misconception. Student interviews help to identify the "why". Once we understand why students are struggling, we are better able to conceive and build a lesson. The interviews prepare us to anticipate students' responses to the lesson.
We study the mathematics students can call upon and their mathematical agency (willingness to engage), authority (decision making, authoring ideas, reasoning), and identity (how they see themselves as a doer and learner). Adding to this a second TRU dimension, productive struggle, we observe how students handle the challenges of accessing problems, moving flexibly between strategies, solving the problem, and articulating their thinking along the way..
We have found several beneficial side-effects of the interviews, students gain confidence, begin to adopt teacher questions in discourse with their peers, feel a sense of ownership of the lesson they helped with, and ask to be interviewed again.
Lesson Study teams identify a focus group of students i.e., low identity, language learners, female, students who don't take learning risks. We choose three students from each class for teachers to study throughout the year. These students are carefully observed by their teacher, interviewed more than once, and observed during the research lesson.
During the interview, students are asked to reflect on their self-perception of themselves as a math student as well as trying a math task that is similar to the one that will be used for the lesson.
Interpreting - How does the student see him/herself as a doer and learner of mathematics? - What mathematics did they need to employ those strategies? - What Maker Ethos is evident: iteration, revision, improvement?
Sixth Grade, Measuring, Precision (September 2015, Spool Task
AC = teacher, CW = teacher Rosa = student
|02:52||AC||OK. When you said about six feet and eleven feet were you talking about your feet or actually inches?|
|AC||Your feet. How many feet with actual inches do you think that is?|
|7||AC||Starting from where you dropped it.|
|8||01:47||Rosa||Well. Like about ... just like the feet on the rulers?|
|10||Rosa||Oh, that would be three.|
|11||03:30||AC||About three feet|
|AC||There're some rulers over there. Do you want to go check them out?|
|15||Rosa||I'm used to the big ones.|
|16||03:50||CW||You said you're used to the big one, what did you mean?|
|17||Rosa||Like the big, big ones. Like this big (hold arms out)|
|18||03:56||AC||Oh, so how big is the big one? Is that a foot?|
|19||Rosa||I think those are thirty-six|
|20||AC||Those are thirty-six what?|
|21||Rosa||Inches no yards.|
|23||Rosa||No, something. I'm getting confused.|
|24||AC||OK. So how big is the big one? Do you know? Thirty-six...|
|25||Rosa||Yards, I think.|
|26||AC||OK. How much is that one (12 inch ruler)?|
|27||04:22||Rosa||This is 12 inches.|
|28||AC||OK. So what happens when I put two together?|
|29||Rosa||That would be twenty-four.|
|30||AC||What happens when I put three together?|
|32||04:29||AC||Yeah. OK. All right. Go check it out.|
|This interview makes visible a student who is not clear about the measurement units and labels for those units. Rosa has the willingness to engage (agency) in the task and is working to make sense of the methods (authoring) what path to measure, what units to use - moving from non-standard units - her feet - to standard units of measure - inches, feet and yards.|
Student interviews provide details about strengths and weaknesses across students that need to be addressed when constructing a research lesson that has a high cognitive demand emphasizing productive struggle, mathematics, access and equity, as well as agency, authority and identity.
By digitally recording the interviews, student thinking can be reviewed for different purposes. Watching the first time for mathematics, the second time for language usage, the third time for representations, the fourth time for agency, identity and authority.
For interviews, it’s important to maintain the focus on assessing students. It is difficult to conduct an assessment
interview without employing our typical teaching moves – asking leading
questions, suggesting alternative strategies, indicating approval or disapproval about their work. Please try!
Student is thanked and given
the opportunity to ask the teachers questions, and then returned to class.
Process is repeated for other focus group students.
Step 5: Debrief