Building mathematics in an RME classroom

In the video clip below, an experienced RME teacher works with Year 7 students on percentage change. (The students have been together in this class for 9 months, and have worked with RME methods and materials in all their mathematics lessons.) This lesson illustrates a number of features of RME, both pedagogical and mathematical. It shows why teachers have a special guiding role in RME, and how they support students to develop their ideas.

The class is working on the slide shown here, which belongs to Lesson 7 of our proportional reasoning module, Filling the Whole (PR1).

While watching…

We suggest that you try watching the video in short segments (1 -2 min).

  • Make notes on exactly what is happening (e.g. “the teacher repeats what a student has said”).
  • Do your best to avoid making judgments (“I would have done it this way…”). Instead focus on noting down the detail of what is actually happening in this lesson.
  • You might want to focus on an aspect of the classroom that interests you (student discussion, teacher questioning, misconceptions). Again, in observing how this theme is treated in the lesson, try to describe the event before jumping to explain or draw conclusions.

15-minute clip from Year 7 'Bargains' lesson

After you have watched the video, ask yourself:

  1. What is the role of the teacher in this lesson?
  2. How does she respond to what students say?
  3. How do the students respond to each other?
  4. How does the teacher work with the slide to develop students’ understanding of percentage change?

Working the discussion, working towards a culture of listening

A major part of the teacher’s role in an RME classroom is to promote and sustain discussion.  In the next two videos, Georgina talks to Marisa, another experienced RME teacher, about how she does this, and how she supports the RME classroom culture.

Video clip 1 on teacher practices:
00:06 Not interfering
02:00 Remaining neutral
02:52 Repeating what other students say
04:01 Helping students to focus
05:54 Silence and wait time

Video clip 2 on RME classroom culture:
00:04 Working together
01:54 Equity in mathematics discussion (in mixed attainment classes)

RME teachers in conversation - 1: On teacher practices

RME teachers in conversation - 2: On classroom culture

Getting started with RME involves developing a classroom culture where students can think and work together.

As the videos show, an RME teacher makes choices all the time about when to let the discussion flow, and when to move on. They also need to assess how students are understanding a context or problem, and make decisions about whose strategy to highlight in class discussion.

To support your classroom in transitioning to student-drive discussions, we have identified a number of RME teaching techniques. We suggest that you focus on one or two at a time as you develop your practice.  We introduce some key pedagogic techniques on the strategies for fostering mathematical discussion on our teaching strategies page.  You can explore some of these techniques and how they relate to our materials further on our building on context and using models pages.