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A Narrative Inquiry Into Curriculum-Making Experiences With Games and Puzzles in a Mathematics Class



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This thesis is a narrative inquiry into curriculum-making experiences with games and puzzles in a mathematics class. For sixteen weeks I lived alongside a teacher and children in a fifth-grade class exploring what curriculum unfolds when interactive games and puzzles are introduced into a mathematics class. When it came time to write research texts I expected to write about mathematics curriculum unfolding for children when they interact with games and puzzles as I had read about in my literature review. Instead I inquired into two resonating moments in my inquiry using field texts I wrote of my experiences, transcripts from research conversations with children, literature I read, and my own memory constructions. I came to see the decisions I made in my experiences surrounding these resonating moments had what Coles (1989) refers to as stories to tell about my “stories to live by” (Clandinin et al., 1999). I learned I live stories of labeling children and stories of teachers as those who plan and whose plans are followed and that the games and puzzles interrupted the ways I was living these stories in my inquiry. In coming to understand my stories to live by, I realized the children I teach more easily live and tell their stories to live by. I also gained insight into my teacher stories (Clandinin et al., 2006), helping me better understand my experiences in the fifth-grade classroom and myself as a curriculum maker. To continue to become what Greene (1978) refers to as wide-awake to my stories to live by, I learned I must incorporate new experiential contexts for me into my future classrooms and inquire into places of tension (Clandinin, Murphy, Huber, & Murray Orr, 2009) in any resonating moments. Overall my inquiry led me to learn something about each of Schwab’s (1973) commonplaces: teacher, learner, milieu, and subject matter. I came to understand curriculum as more than subject matter, but instead that curriculum involves all of Schwab’s commonplaces and the interactions between them. This insight into curriculum helped me think about my future practices as a teacher and a professional developer.



narrative inquiry, curriculum making, games, puzzles, mathematics, teaching and learning



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Curriculum Studies




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