In this study, we examined the types and the frequencies of questions and explanations exchanged between four teachers and their students in fourth-grade mathematics classes, across two years. Specifically, we observed these classes for one week in two separate, consecutive years; in the first year, they all employed a traditional curriculum, while in year two, they all used a reform-oriented curriculum, Math Trailblazers. We examined the discourse practices of these teachers across the two years and how these discourse practices granted the intellectual space for the children to recognize and utilize more autonomy in classroom discussions. We not only offer a quantitative analysis of the changes in classroom discourse practices across the two years, we have also included selected examples of verbal exchanges between teachers and students to showcase notable qualitative differences we observed from year one to year two. Given our findings, we recommend that teachers focus foremost on their discourse practices when attempting to adopt a reform-oriented curriculum.
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