Using Writing to Support Mathematical Arguments in Early Algebra
Salvador Huitzilopochtli

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Research Development Award

Award Year



University of California, Santa Cruz

Primary Discipline

Mathematical argument and proof are difficult for students of mathematics to learn; in part because it requires teachers and students to engage the process of reasoning mathematically in new and demanding ways. Typically, students have had little experience with proof and are likely to arrive to the classroom familiar with only empirical proof schemes, which rely on the use of calculation and examples. These challenges are exacerbated in classrooms that serve students from non-dominant communities due to disinvestment, tracking, and re-segregation. This study examines the use of writing to support students in developing mathematical arguments during a unit of instruction on Early Algebra in a predominantly English Learner (Latinx) middle-school classroom. This design-based study will explore how students from non-dominant communities construct and refine mathematical arguments through the introduction and iteration of mathematical writing activities that scaffold the proof process, leverage ?audience' and purposes for mathematical writing, and provide opportunities for conferencing and revision. Analysis will consider the ways that students that vary in terms of mathematics achievement and English language fluency change over the course of the study in terms of their mathematical reasoning and use of language when writing mathematically. Results from this study could inform research and practice by better understanding how learning environments that foster language-use that includes writing support multilingual students to develop more analytic proof schemes.
About Salvador Huitzilopochtli
Salvador Huitzilopochtli is a PhD Candidate in Education at the University of California, Santa Cruz (advisee of Dr. Judit Moschkovich). His research interests include mathematical argumentative writing and Early Algebra with a focus on creating instructional environments that foster equitable outcomes for all students. Mr. Huitzilopochtli's dissertation project examines how students use mathematical writing to construct and refine more sophisticated mathematical arguments. Assuming a sociocultural view of mathematics, the design study uses Mathematical writing activities to leverage audience, purpose, and students' full linguistic repertoires to promote reasoning and deepen learning. He earned master's degrees in Education from UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz and a BA (Rhetoric) and Single-Subject teaching credential (Mathematics) from UC Berkeley. Mr. Huitzilopochtli's research is informed by ten years of experience as a middle-school mathematics teacher and teacher leader in culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse schools in the San Francisco East Bay Area. Mr. Huitzilopochtli's work centers equity and draws upon his additional experience working in violence prevention, academic support, cultural education, and mentoring.

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