The Elementary Mathematics Laboratory 2017 Collection comprises documentation of a summer mathematics class taught by Deborah Loewenberg Ball, an experienced elementary school teacher and faculty member at the University of Michigan School of Education. EML2017 was a two-week summer mathematics laboratory designed to foster strong mathematical and academic identities in students, provide opportunities to work on complex mathematical ideas and practices, and develop additional practices of learning. The program was also designed to create a context for the professional growth of teachers who observed the lab class sessions. Mathematics topics included fractions, number concepts, and combinatorics, along with important mathematical practices, such as explaining, representing, proving, defining, and looking for and using mathematical structure. A range of literacies was also central to the children's work.
In the second week of the program, the class was designed to make it possible for students to rotate through three stations each day. Deborah Loewenberg Ball taught one of these stations. Charles Wilkes, a beginning teacher and a doctoral student in mathematics education at the University of Michigan School of Education, taught a second station. One rotation through his station is featured on the video. At the third station, children worked independently on challenge problems. This station was not documented.
The EML2017 summer program enrolled 20 students entering fifth grade in the fall. The class was predominantly Black. Students participating in the laboratory received approximately 20 hours of mathematics instruction—equivalent to a typical month of school—and were assigned up to an hour of homework each night to reinforce and extend the topics and practices that were worked on in class.
Laboratory classes are structured to make it possible for educators, policymakers, and education advocates to deeply engage in the close study of teaching practice, through examining a “live” instance of public teaching with others. The laboratory setting also allows for experimentation – to develop and test different instructional techniques and curricular approaches derived from earlier research as well as to inform ongoing research. These classes are not intended as examples of “how to teach,” but rather provide a context for studying teaching and learning. The University of Michigan School of Education has been hosting elementary mathematics laboratories each summer since 2003. More information about this program can be found on the Mathematics Laboratory page on the TeachingWorks website.
The video and lesson artifacts from the program are intended to serve as a valuable resource for attendees of the EML 2017 working in a variety of settings to extend their learning and reflect on student growth. The following resources are currently available or will be available shortly after the conclusion of the EML.