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Acknowledgements

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 

Awareness of big ideas in mathematics and mathematics education – the motivation for the project

Providing good learning opportunities in the mathematics classroom is essential for instructional quality and the development of competencies of students. In particular, the development of teachers’ awareness of big ideas in mathematics is a goal shared by the aims of national standards in many European countries. By using mathematical ‘big ideas’ in the classroom, we are referring to such notions as: proof and argumentation; multiple representations; infinity; modelling; and randomness and inference.

Moreover, in addition to big ideas linked to mathematics itself, ABCmaths includes a focus on big ideas of mathematics teaching. This takes into account the special situation of mathematics classrooms, in which mathematical practices are linked to learning and the orchestration of learning opportunities by teachers.

A crucial base for knowledge about big mathematical ideas and big ideas for mathematics instruction, i.e. overarching concepts that facilitate the creation of rich learning opportunities in classrooms, is mathematical content knowledge and corresponding so-called pedagogical content knowledge. However, in many countries sufficiently deep content knowledge in mathematics is not made available in pre-service teacher training, and in-service learning of teachers is often inhibited by the everyday constraints of the workplace on the one hand and the inertia of established individual classroom routines on the other.

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