Report on WS 3: Embodiment, Language, Gesture and Multimodality in Mathematics Education
Janete Bolite Frant – UNIBAN
Laurie Edwards – St Mary’s College
Ferdinando Arzarello – Torino University

The goal of this Working Session was to increase our understanding of mathematical thinking and learning by considering the variety of modalities involved in the production of mathematical ideas, and by engaging in joint analysis of videotaped data including multiple modalities, particularly gesture. A total of 23 participants attended the first session, with a similar number attending the second session. In the first session, each participant introduced themselves and described their interest in the topics of the session. Then the organizers made brief presentations about the central constructs: embodiment, gesture, multimodality, and cognitive linguistics. The remainder of the session was devoted to small group discussions, based on the interests specified by the participants. These included groups on conceptual mapping, semiotics, graphing, and gestures by young children.
At the conclusion of the first sessions, volunteers were solicited to share short segments of videotape the next session, to be analyzed in small groups. Two groups were created, based on the focus of the videos to be presented. One group focused on graphing, 3-space and gestures, and included Maria Luiza Cestari, Susan Gerofsky and Deborah Moore-Russo. The other group considered videos of blind students and pre-schoolers, which were presented by Lulu Healy and Kate Highfield. In order to enhance participation, the presenters were asked to first show the video one or two times, then allow the other participants to comment on and analyze the videos, and only in the final five minutes, to present their own interpretations.
These sessions were very successful, and it was somewhat difficult to draw the whole group together again. However, the final discussion was extremely fruitful: we discussed creating a database of videos of gesture in mathematical contexts (including factors such as privacy and security), and participants were encouraged to access and expand an existing wikispace, http://tem.wikispaces.com (Theory of Embodied Mathematics) as well as take advantage of the resources on a more general wiki on gesture (http://gesturegroup.wikispaces.com). Laurie Edwards volunteered to add the participants to a list-serve in order to allow continuing communication and possible collaboration among the participants.