Unpacking Practice - Megan Franke - UCLA

Unpacking Mathematical Practice

Megan Franke

Mathematics Methods

Department of Education

UCLA Center X

The Problem of Practice

A ongoing dilemma for me is how to best prepare my students to do the work of teaching mathematics in an urban setting. The focus for me here is "practice". I set out this year to find ways to better support students as they develop the practice of teaching mathematics. This site documents my process and is laid out in two phases of experimentation.


"My larger goal in incorporating the Quest work is to help students learn to learn from their own practice. My more specific goal is to help them learn how to unpack practice."

Beginning to Experiment

Identifying Problems of Practice

I saw how Pam Grossman used Yvonne Hutchinson's materials.

I was inspired to begin to think again about how I help my students develop the day to day practices of mathematics teaching.

Pam asked her students to identify a practice that Yvonne used and try it out for themselves. They had to document their attempts via video and bring them back to methods to debrief and share.

I knew this would not be possible in my first attempt so I showed one of my favorite video clips of Lilliam Paetzold teaching second grade mathematics. Lilliam poses a multidigit addition problem. Lilliam asks the students to describe what the problem is asking and pulls together the students' ideas. She asks students to solve the problem in whatever way makes sense and she elicits students multiple strategies in a whole group discussion. She does this using ELL strategies.

Our class then generated the different practices they noticed Lilliam and her students engaged in.

The students choose one to try in their student teaching.


Mathematics Methods for Elementary Teachers

Winter Quarter

Year 1 of 2 Year Program

Program focused on Teaching and Social Justice

Student Teaching begins in the fifth week of methods


Beginning to Experiment


Initial List of Practices Identified in Class Discussion


problem discussion

listening to students

writing the problem with the line between tens and ones

writing everything on the board in English and Spanish (different colors)

asking students how they solved problem

discussion about strategies

children worked with partners

students who finished shared with someone also finished

Creating Opportunities

In my mathematics methods practice I am working on creating the following opportunities:

1. For preservice teachers' learning to become generative - where teachers learn to learn from their practice, where they learn to experiment systematically

2. For the preservice teachers' to begin to develop specific and detailed knowledge about the trajectories of students' mathematical thinking

3. For the preservice teachers' to challenge (in ongoing ways) the assumptions they bring about students, about culture about diversity and how those play out in their interactions with students to support student understanding and identities

4. For preservice teachers to make sense of the above ideas in relation to their work in urban schools - the reality and other aspects of the work that influence how the above ideas they develop will play out for them

Instructional Context

UCLA TEP Description

Relevant Assignment(s)


Our Learning

Struggling with Beginning Practice


  • had difficulty detailing practice
  • choose practices that were difficult to implement
  • found they had to be very persistent to "elicit student thinking"
  • could not always persist and gave up on the practice of eliciting
  • who took on the simpler practices (counting) persisted

This electronic portfolio was created using the KEEP Toolkit™, developed at the
Knowledge Media Lab of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
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