‘Freezing Time’ Project Studies Teachers’ Attention

‘Freezing Time’ Project Studies Teachers’ Attention

Freezing Time
In busy classrooms, what do teachers pay attention to, and how can they tune in more closely on students’ thinking? How can teachers learn to make the most of “teachable moments”? These are questions that SESP associate professors Miriam Sherin and Bruce Sherin are trying to answer through their research study called “Freezing Time.”

In this study teachers use wearable video cameras to capture key moments in the classroom for later video analysis. This technology allows researchers to examine the teacher’s point of view and perception of meaning at the moment of instruction. “There is evidence that when teachers respond to student thinking, the opportunity for student learning increases,” says Miriam Sherin.

"Freezing Time" involves 25 teachers and 750 students at eight schools in Chicago, Evanston and other suburbs. The researchers are examining the ways in which mathematics and science teachers attend to the complexity of classroom interactions and are supporting teachers in learning to attend to consequential events that take place in the classroom through the use of video reflection.

This research project is based on the belief that, in order to promote meaningful learning in the classroom, science and mathematics teachers need to substantively attend to their students’ thinking. Along these lines, the project is concerned with examining what teachers pay attention to in the classroom and how they interpret what they notice.

“In particular we are implementing new digital video technologies and designing new research methodologies to gain better access to teachers’ tacit thinking about what moments during instruction are pedagogically relevant. Through our work with pre-service and in-service K-12 teachers, we hope to learn how to better help teachers tune their attention to their students’ thinking,” the researchers say.

The "Freezing Time" project is supported by a gift from the Martinson Family Foundation.

Photo caption:
SESP associate professor Bruce Sherin shows a teacher how to use a tiny video camera mounted on her cap to record student learning.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 1/4/11