Dec 7 2018

An article offering middle school math teachers strategies to engage all students while maintaining rigor co-authored by the University of Washington College of Education’s Katherine Lewis has received the Linking Research and Practice Outstanding Publication Award from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Research Committee.

“Productive Struggle for All: Differentiated Instruction,” co-authored by Lewis, an assistant professor in special education and learning sciences, was published in the January/February 2018 issue of Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School.

In the article, Lewis and her co-authors focus on how to differentiate mathematical tasks for a wide range of learners while maintaining rigor, illustrating accessible practices that teachers can use to promote productive struggle through differentiation.

The article also presents scenarios involving hypothetical cases of students in inclusive classrooms who engaged in productive struggle within a differentiated task and examines how appropriate differentiation can provide increased opportunities for all students, including those with disabilities.

Specific lesson-planning ideas, grounded in the tenets of differentiated instruction, proposed in the article include:

  • Consider the underlying mathematical principles that are entailed in the problem;
  • Think about how each student can gain access to the mathematical context of the task;
  • Consider how each student can engage with the mathematics in a way that builds on and extends his or her prior knowledge;
  • Provide feedback in the form of supporting or extending questions;
  • Design structures or discussions to help support student understanding; and
  • Provide ample time for each student to engage in the mathematical content of the task.

Lewis’ research lies at the intersection of math education and special education and is concerned with understanding the nature of mathematical learning disabilities. Her work centers on an understanding of disability in terms of cognitive difference rather than deficit.

The Linking Research and Practice Outstanding Publication Award recognizes work that integrates mathematics education research and practice and is disseminated to practitioner audiences. Lewis will be honored at the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in April 2019.


Katherine Lewis, Assistant Professor in Special Education and Learning Sciences

Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications