Visualize Teaching

Strengthening Middle School Mathematical Argumentation through Teacher Coaching: Bridging from Professional Development to Classroom Practice

Lead Staff:
Teresa Lara-Meloy
Project Staff:
Jennifer Knudsen
Ken Rafanan
Zac Alstad
Rachel Hayes


Fourth in a series of NSF-funded projects, this design-based research project examines the effectiveness of a new professional development model for middle school mathematics teachers. The model incorporates the best of what is known about coaching with the innovative methods we have designed in prior projects.

The need for PD in the mathematical practices is clear: Teachers have expressed frustration at trying to address practice standards and content standards simultaneously. They need teaching moves to support productive classroom discourse. In Visualize Teaching, we build on mathematical argumentation with focus on four additional standards for mathematical practice (SMPs), emphasizing ways for teachers to supports students equitably.

Visualize Teaching will enhance our existing full-week summer teacher workshop with year-round coaching activities to support teachers in learning, examining, planning for, and practicing teaching the SMPs. District middle school math coaches and teachers will use a video analysis system to record and analyze teachers’ practices in six focal lessons covering five SMPs in grades 6-8:

  • SMP3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
  • SMP5. Use of tools strategically
  • SMP6. Attend to precision
  • SMP7. Look for and make use of structure
  • SMP8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

We believe that all students can and should engage in mathematical argumentation, especially those that have not been given the opportunity to participate in high disciplinary-based practices.  Towards that goal, we have worked with districts, teachers, and students in underserved and highly segregated communities.  In this project, we will also weave the use of EQUIP, a web-based app that enable teachers to review their classroom videos with an eye towards classroom equity.

Research Activity

Visualize Teaching’s research design uses both qualitative and quantitative data to understand if and how the program is effective. We are interested in understanding how and whether the Visualize Teaching PD model works to improve classroom engagement in the SMPs. Towards this, we will track the activities of coaches and teachers over two years and will focus on student learning in the second year of the intervention. In addition, we are developing coding schemes for capturing teacher moves and student actions in whole class conversations for each of the SMPs in our project. These coding schemes will serve as the basis of video analysis of focal lessons and as the foundation for teaching rubrics to support coaches as they engage teachers in content-focused coaching cycles.


Visualize Teaching will result in a scalable model with evidence of success that can be used in settings where teachers aim to address the mathematical practices, as characterized by the Common Core Standards as well as many state standards.