Thursday, September 08, 2011

Math Talk

"Mathematics is a Language" - Josiah Willard Gibbs

Today I introduced the idea of "Math Talk" to my students.  I've read, discussed and heard about many initiatives related to giving students the opportunity to talk about and share math concepts.  Like every teaching venue, it's important to personalize the approach for your students and your overall classroom goals and style.

We started by transitioning to math by listening to a YouTube math song.  Then, using the strategies I'm employing with the daily 5, I started by engaging students in a discussion about the purpose of Math Talk.  Together we came up with many ideas including the following:
  • to understand.
  • to learn.
  • to "know how to do it."
  • to come up with strategies.
  • to feel more comfortable
  • to teach others
  • to practice math language.
Then we discussed "Math Talk" protocols:
  • Time: we agreed on 18 minutes and had a time keeper.
  • Sharing Ideas:
    • respect all ideas - no "making fun" of ideas.
    • don't think anyone's idea is "stupid."
    • be open minded to ideas.
    • raise hand when you have an idea as we can't all talk at once.
  • Pay Attention
    • no side talk--write it down if you think you're going to forget.
    • look at speaker (now and then, sometimes you may need to look elsewhere).
    • try to stay focused; don't do other things.
After that, we tried our first "Math Talk."  Ms. Phipps, the student teacher was our time keeper.  I sat in the front of the room and scribed the notes related to our "Patterns for Counting to 1,000" discussion on a Google doc which students could view on the big screen.  At the end of the discussion, I published the notes and put the link on our closed NING network for students and parents to revisit at home.  

I'm excited to think about the journey ahead related to "Math Talk."  I'm also open to your thoughts, suggestions and ideas as we travel this road to deeper math understanding.  Thanks for listening.