This paper explores peer interactions in an elementary mathematics classroom (ages 9–10) where the teacher intentionally shared authority with her students and supported them in learning to share authority with one another. Authors examine how students shifted between shared, concentrated, and contested social and intellectual authority relations in partner and small group work during a three-week unit on place value. Findings show that (a) students were able to share both social and intellectual authority, and did so often; (b) the distribution of social authority was more dynamic than that of intellectual authority; and (c) when groups shifted into shared intellectual authority, shifts were usually preceded by a student making some aspect of the collaborative task public. We connect these findings to research on authority in mathematics classrooms that serve racially and linguistically minoritized students and offer directions for future work.
- Group work
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