The plot thickens: The aesthetic dimensions of a captivating mathematics lesson
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Citation (published version)Andrew Richman, Leslie Dietiker, Meghan Riling. "The plot thickens: The aesthetic dimensions of a captivating mathematics lesson." Journal of Mathematical Behavior [In press], https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmathb.2018.08.005
We present an analysis of a sixth-grade mathematics lesson in which an aesthetically-rich moment of mathematical surprise, inspired by a decontextualized integer addition problem, spurred students to ask mathematical questions and actively sustain inquiry into the lesson’s central ideas. In order to understand how the unfolding mathematical content enabled this moment, we interpret the lesson as a mathematical story. Using this narrative framework, we describe the aesthetic dimensions of the story including its plot, density, coherence, and rhythm, and connect them to the unfolding mathematical content. This analysis demonstrates how these aesthetic elements of a lesson can be recognized and how they help explain the students’ productive engagement. This framework offers a potential tool for researchers and practitioners who seek to understand, design, and enact captivating mathematical experiences.