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Teacher Noticing: Bridging and Broadening Perspectives, Contexts, and Frameworks

Edna O. Schack, Molly H. Fisher, and Jennifer A. Wilhelm, editors
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
Research in Mathematics Education
[Reviewed by
Woong Lim
, on

When we discuss good mathematics teaching, the teacher’s content knowledge and his or her presentation skills are often mentioned as the important aspects of effective instruction. In today’s research, however, teachers’ knowledge of students’ thinking and their in-the-moment teaching decisions have emerged as significant parts of effective instruction. Some researchers have framed the teacher awareness or skill to “notice what children are doing, how they respond, evaluate what’s being said or done… and what might be said or done next” (p. 51) as noticing. This theoretical construct has gained some traction in the field of mathematics education. Thankfully, here is a book that nicely encapsulates the skill of noticing into the history of the theory and burgeoning uses and misuses. Teacher Noticing: Bridging and Broadening Perspectives, Contexts, and Frameworks (edited by Schack, Fisher, and Wilhelm) originates from a conference working group, which includes 22 papers, five commentaries, and one concluding commentary.

The book has five sections. The first section introduces teacher noticing in a variety of contexts (i.e., grade levels, preservice/inservice) in mathematics education. The second section focuses on student thinking through the noticing framework and related research on students’ mathematical thinking. The third section includes studies that show how teacher noticing remains relevant to the issues of equity in the mathematics classroom. As noticing is increasingly accepted as an important skill for teachers, the fourth section dwells on the issue of measuring (i.e., data collection and analysis) teacher noticing. The last section explores the variations of teacher noticing and how the construct is useful to understanding other important areas (i.e., lesson planning, delivery, and review, p. 445) of teaching mathematics.

The scope of the book, with the inclusion of equity issues and the relentless effort to present a cohesive picture of the work of teacher noticing, is quite impressive. It is a great book for those who are developing an interest in teacher noticing. New researchers could use this book to identify the various themes of the noticing framework and specific research questions. It is nice that each section starts with a commentary/review contributed by an experienced researcher. There is one more piece at the end that summarizes and reflects on the contributed chapters. This book may not be appropriate as a text for undergraduate classes, especially when noticing is a week’s agenda only, or noticing is your general point of reference to underscore the teacher’s awareness during the lesson.

As a mathematics teacher educator, the chapter (p. 141) about preservice teacher noticing was of particular interest to me. This chapter describes in detail how the authors in teacher education supported those with limited teaching experience to notice student thinking about the equals sign. A commentary by Miriam Sherin (p. 401) was interesting as well — I first heard about the term noticing from a research paper she co-authored. Sherin discusses her thinking with a great deal of subtlety about the way the noticing framework can be extended to other research areas in mathematics education.

I hope many people will read this book and reflect on the simple yet powerful relationship between what the math teacher notices in classroom interactions, how the teacher processes the information, and how the teacher acts on the insight to impact student learning.

Woong Lim ( is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at University of New Mexico. His research interests include mathematics teacher education; and discourse, language, and equity in the mathematics classroom.

See the table of contents in the publisher's webpage.