The didactic potential of artefacts for learning have been extensively studied, with a main focus on their possible use by students and the subsequent benefits for them. However, there has been the tendency to underestimate the complexity of exploiting this potential, and specifically the complexity of the teacher’s role orchestrating the teaching and learning process. Following Vygotskij’s seminal idea of semiotic mediation, the theoretical framework of Theory of Semiotic Mediation (TSM) has been developed (Bartolini Bussi & Mariotti, 2008) with the aim of providing a teaching and learning model, where attention is focused on the semiotic processes related to the use of cultural artefacts. Through the semiotic lens it is possible to analyse the classroom discourse and highlight specific patterns in the teacher’s action that make students’ personal meanings evolve towards the mathematical meanings that are the objective of the didactic intervention. The paper presents a first model of the teacher’s action and provides some examples drawn from long term teaching experiments carried out at the primary school level.
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