Friday, 18 May 2018

Why maths talk ?

Communication and collaboration are touted as essential skills for the modern workplace.
Being able to think creatively and articulate your thoughts is a highly valued skill in an increasingly competitive world.

Encouraging talk in maths classes not only helps prepare students for the modern workplace, it also builds competency in reading and writing (Britton, 1970).

"Mathematics is a language that enables us to describe and model situations, think logically, frame and sustain arguments and communicate ideas with precision. Students do not know mathematics until they can 'speak' it. Interpretations for concepts remain mere ‘shadows’ unless they are articulated through language. We find that many students have never had much opportunity to articulate their understanding publicly. " Maths Assessment project

Maths Solutions suggest that getting students to talk in maths classes also supports:
  • robust learning by boosting memory
  • deeper reasoning
  • language development
  • development of social skills 
and that it also
  • reveals understanding and misunderstandings

If I want my students to talk more in class then i must think about 
  1. How do I facilitate classroom discussion ?
  2. What would my classroom a safe place for students to talk and take risks
  3. How do I encourage students to communicate  
To encourage students to communicate 
  • Build the relationships with and between students in the class (whakawhanaungatanaga)
  • Encourage voicing of  "other ways" 
  • Make student thinking public via scribing ( board, padlets, shared doc)
  • Restate students’ strategies
  • Use their contexts rather than mine
To make the classroom a safe space for students to share their voice 
  • Build the relationships with and between students in the class (whakawhanaungatanaga)
  • Develop a risk taking mistake making culture
  • Make sure all students have enough time to think and process (wait / thinking time)
  • Value all responses without judgement
To facilitate discussion
  • Ask questions that have multiple answers. Students could discuss the answer in teams, then in pairs and finally I could get them to  individually write a response for their team mate to read. the response could be  a single sentence.  eg two numbers sum to 180 what could they be?
  • Use prompts like those on Which one doesn't belong , 101qs what is the first question that comes to mind?  or  a statistical graph from census at school data viewer so every students can participate. and have them start their discussions using prompts I notice ... or I wonder ..., I agree/disagree with ... because...; I think ... doesn't belong because...
  • Use discourse rich tasks eg investigating number patterns

 100 Questions to promote discourse  is one of the most useful documents I have found. Questions are grouped in categories eg questions that help students work together, rely more on themselves, reason, evaluate their progress

Want to read more? This white paper offers strategies for Orchestrating Mathematical discourse

or if you prefer to watch

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