MICHELLE CIRILLO, PhD
2010 KSTF Research Fellow
Assistant Professor, Mathematics Education
University of Delaware
In her research project, Dr. Michelle Cirillo is working with early career high school teachers who are teaching proof in geometry. Her study addresses three key areas in mathematics education: proof, classroom talk, and professional development of beginning mathematics teachers. Michelle’s interest in mathematics education dates back to her days as an undergraduate at Plattsburgh State University (SUNY Plattsburgh) where she graduated with a BS in Mathematics Education. She immediately went on to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching in Mathematics Education from Northern Arizona University. Then, after teaching high school mathematics in NY for eight years, Michelle returned to graduate school to earn a PhD in Education, specializing in Mathematics Education at Iowa State University. Michelle is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Delaware.
Michelle’s extensive research experience includes prior work on two National Science Foundation-funded grants at Iowa State. As a graduate research assistant, Michelle worked on a project that investigated classroom discourse in middle grades mathematics classrooms (2004-2008). As a post-doctoral research fellow, Michelle investigated teachers’ curriculum vision and district decision making about curriculum material selection (2008-2009). She is now a co-PI on another NSF grant, Mathematics Discourse in Secondary Classrooms.
Based on her own experience as a high school teacher, combined with her examination of the research literature, Michelle hypothesized that beginning high school teachers might be particularly anxious about being assigned to teach a geometry course because this is typically the place where deductive proof is taught. She examined this subject in her PhD dissertation, “On becoming a geometry teacher: A longitudinal case study of one teacher learning to teach proof,” and reported her findings in a number of subsequent publications. Her KSTF project “is significant in its potential to generate important findings related to the improvement of teaching proof at the high school level.”
Michelle’s project, “Mathematics Discourse in Geometry Proof,” focuses on supporting beginning geometry teachers as they engage their students in learning how to teach mathematical proof. In the context of geometry proof, she is also examining teacher talk moves, which have the potential to foster increased student participation in mathematics classrooms. For example, prompting students for further information or using wait time to slow the pace of classroom talk have been shown to increase the quantity and quality of student talk. The project will develop a community of six beginning teachers working together to improve the ways in which they teach proof.
Awards and Recognitions
Co-PI National Science Foundation grant for Mathematics Discourse in Secondary Classrooms (M-DISC): A Case-Based Professional Development Curriculum (2009); Iowa State University Research Excellent Award (2008)
Cirillo, M., & Herbel-Eisenmann, B. (2011) “Mathematicians will say it this way”: An
investigation of teachers’ framings of mathematicians. School Science and Mathematics, 111(2), 68-78.
Cirillo, M., Richardson Bruna, K. & Herbel-Eisenmann, B. (2010) Acquisition of mathematical language: Suggestions and activities for English Language Learners. Multicultural Perspectives, 12(1), 34-41.
Cirillo, M. (2009) Ten things to consider when teaching proof: What I wish I had known about teaching proof before I taught geometry. Mathematics Teacher, 103(4), 250-257.
Cirillo, M., Drake, C. & Herbel-Eisenmann, B. (2009). Developing curriculum vision and coherence: Adapting curriculum to focus on authentic mathematics. Mathematics Teacher, 103(1), 70-75.
Cirillo, M., Herbel-Eisenmann, B. & Drake, C. (2009). Developing curriculum vision and coherence: Making the curriculum come alive. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 15(1), 51-56.
Herbel-Eisenmann, B., Cirillo, M., & Skowronski, K. (2009) “Why classroom discourse
deserves our attention!” Chapter in A. Flores (Ed.) pp. 103-115, Mathematics for Every Student: Responding to Diversity, Grades 9- 12. Reston, VA: NCTM.
Herbel-Eisenmann, B., Drake, C., & Cirillo, M. (2009) “Muddying the clear waters”: Teachers’ take-up of the linguistic idea of revoicing. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25, 268-276.
Herbel-Eisenmann, B. & Cirillo, M. (Editors, 2009). Promoting purposeful discourse. Reston, VA: NCTM.