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What's Right About Looking at What's Wrong?


"This article describes a mathematics lesson taught by a 5th grade teacher who engages her class in an in-depth examination of one student's incorrect solution to a problem. Because the teacher consistently asks her students to devise alternative calculation strategies and explain how those strategies work, the students have come to expect that mathematics makes sense and that they can solve problems through reasoning. The article also describes how a videotape of the lesson was used in a professional development seminar. Teachers in the seminar conducted their own study of the student's incorrect solution, and thus constructed for themselves more powerful understandings of mathematics teaching and learning. The author states that this kind of professional development is essential to help teachers reconceptualize mathematics as an interconnected body of ideas to be explored, rather than a set of facts, definitions, and procedures to be memorized and used."