Integrating history of mathematics in classes could be a hard task with young pupils. Indeed, original historical sources have a language that is far from the modern one. Such texts represent cultural artefacts that can give access to mathematical knowledge. The teacher can exploit such potential acting as a mediator between the mathematical signs of the source and those signs that are accessible to students. Through a case study, we investigate the role of the teacher in the process of semiotic mediation during a collective discussion. The analysed intervention is made of two phases: firstly, students work collaboratively and secondly, the teacher mediates a discussion aimed at institutionalizing the knowledge. During the discussion, working on a text from Tartaglia’s translation of Euclid’s Elements, a group of fifth graders constructs a definition of prime numbers. Referring to the Theory of Semiotic Mediation, we analyse the role of the teacher in building up semiotic chains linking students’ productions to an institutionalized knowledge emerging from the collective discussion. We highlight how teacher’s focalization on students’ words allows the progress of the discussion: the potential of the historical text is exploited fostering a definition that is close to culturally shared mathematics.

Exploiting the potential of primary historical sources in primary school: a focus on teacher’s actions

Maffia, Andrea
2019

Abstract

Integrating history of mathematics in classes could be a hard task with young pupils. Indeed, original historical sources have a language that is far from the modern one. Such texts represent cultural artefacts that can give access to mathematical knowledge. The teacher can exploit such potential acting as a mediator between the mathematical signs of the source and those signs that are accessible to students. Through a case study, we investigate the role of the teacher in the process of semiotic mediation during a collective discussion. The analysed intervention is made of two phases: firstly, students work collaboratively and secondly, the teacher mediates a discussion aimed at institutionalizing the knowledge. During the discussion, working on a text from Tartaglia’s translation of Euclid’s Elements, a group of fifth graders constructs a definition of prime numbers. Referring to the Theory of Semiotic Mediation, we analyse the role of the teacher in building up semiotic chains linking students’ productions to an institutionalized knowledge emerging from the collective discussion. We highlight how teacher’s focalization on students’ words allows the progress of the discussion: the potential of the historical text is exploited fostering a definition that is close to culturally shared mathematics.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11571/1227806
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