I have always considered myself being good at math because I could recite algorithms, but I have realized through taking EDMA 6432: Elementary Math Methods that math is much more than facts, rules, or algorithms. The primary textbook used in the course was Classroom Discussion: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn (2009) which emphasizes on five talks moves to promote mathematical learning for students. According to Chaplin, O’Connor, and Anderson (2009) classroom talk can promote learning in mathematics directly and indirectly. Classroom talk provides direct access to “ideas, relationships among those ideas, strategies, procedures, facts, mathematical history, and more” (p. 6). Students can also learn indirectly through the building of a social environment and community that encourages learning (p. 6). Classroom talk will help build students’ confidence about his or her ability especially in the engagement of intellectual discussion (p. 9). These classroom talk moves are: re-voicing, repeating, reasoning, adding on, and waiting.
In order for classroom talk to be effectively implemented within ones classroom, ground rules for respectful and courteous talk must be in place. Without ground rules for classroom discussion, students may feel unsafe to share their opinions and answers. I believe it is easy to sometimes overlook rules such as being respectful when others are speaking and to respect each and everyone’s opinions or answers. If these rules are not established and continually reminded throughout the school year, meaningful and respectful classroom talk may be extremely difficult to achieve.
All the five talk moves are important aspects of classroom discussion, and one could talk about each forever. I just wanted to address a few key points I personally feel is especially important with these moves. Simply having students repeat their own or other students’ responses will benefit students through hearing an explanation a number of times. It will also give students the practice in paying attention to someone other than the teacher (p. 72). Additionally, using wait time so that each student can have adequate time to think of an answer or response. The wait time applies to when the teacher has asked a question and also after the teacher has called upon a student for an answer or response (p. 17). Both instances demonstrate that fact that students need time to process and organize their thoughts so that it can be articulated. Again, one cannot stress each of the talk moves enough when trying to facilitate classroom talk. These two benefits really stood out to me as great ways to help promote learning and understanding.
Another important idea I took away from this text is not to simply tell students whether they are correct or wrong on their answers. Chaplin, O’Connor, and Anderson (2009) state that, “students learn more when they consider incorrect options and then reject them based on reasoning rather than on the basis of an authority’s decision” (p. 77). This also involves the teacher avoiding simple “yes” or “no” style questions that require little to no thought for students to answer. Prior to this class I viewed math as a very straight forward subject – that one is either correct or wrong. Now I see and realize that through classroom discussion, students’ mathematical understanding and learning can be deepened.
Chaplin, S.H., O’Connor, C., & Anderson, N.C. (2009). Classroom discussions: using math talk to help students learn. Sausalito, CA: Scholastic-Math Solutions.