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Talking with your mouth full: The role of a mediating tool in shaping collective positioning
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Paper presented at the 9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2010, Chicago, IL, USA, 29 June - 2 July, 2010
Research on classroom discourse has long underscored the integral role of
social interaction in learning, yet designing for and supporting meaningful classroom
interaction often remains a challenge. This paper examines the ways that elementary
school students are positioned and position themselves during activities aimed at
promoting reflexivity about small-group math discussions. We examine one student
group’s participation in three such activities over eight months’ time and specifically
highlight the role of a mediating tool that was designed to support participation-centered
rather than ability-centered conceptions of learning. Our aim is to examine how one focal
group’s math discussions were or were not shaped by the tool in ways that were
consequential for productive collaborative engagement.
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