Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Best Part

How many times have you heard this?

It is not the answer that is important but how you got there.

Over the past week I have been in quite a few classes working with students on their mathematical thinking. Specifically, 'Number Talks' and how they mentally process numbers and the different ways to do it.

What an experience it has been. The whole idea is to let the students do the talking and learn from the ideas of each other. I have found this incredibly difficult. How many times have you had to stop yourself from interrupting or interjecting during a classroom discussion? I know that this is something that I have had to work so that students can learn from their own thinking and the thinking of others.

There has been a huge amount of learning at our school this week! The learning has not been done all by the students but the process we as a staff are moving through to examine and discover student thinking. After each classroom session there has been just as much professional dialogue going on as there was dialogue with the students around the Number Talk. Ideas of where to go next, insight on where certain students are in their learning and discussion on how to extend the mathematical thinking of these students.

This approach to teaching and talking about math in the classroom is relatively new to me. After working with just a few groups of students I can really see how this can benefit each and everyone of the students at our school. I am hoping that others feel the same way and continue with these talks with their students a few times a week and we can deepen the students mathematical thinking.

That is the best part.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Who is Learning More: That is the Question

After going into a few different classrooms and doing a 'Number Talk' with the students a few things are becoming quite clear.

  • We have some incredibly smart students in this school!
  • Our students have been taught some fantastic strategies to work with numbers.
  • All of our students are benefiting from 'Talk Moves'.
There is no question that I am learning just as much or more from working with these classes on 'Number Talks'.  This is an amazing thing and each time I listen to a student speak or go into a class, I know that I am slowly getting a better understanding of student mathematical thinking each and every time.

One of the challenges I have faced over the past few days is biting my tongue and not adding to a student's verbal answer or guiding them in a certain direction. This is where the talk move comes in. 

Redirect it to another student or ask another student to rephrase what their classmate just said. My favourite may be this one: Do you agree with what _____ just said?

So many times what you wanted to say is said by one of the other students. I think that this is a very powerful thing. For too long educators have been the giver of knowledge. During these discussions, our students have been learning from each other and teaching each other. Powerful stuff!

If you have any experience with number talks let me know about it. I'd love to hear how it is working in your school.

Interested in learning more about 'Talk Moves'? Check out Lucy West. She has some fantastic videos and information on this area.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Going to Talk Numbers


One of the areas of focus that our school is looking at this year is student thinking in the area of math. I am sure for those of you in Ontario this comes as no surprise. One of the resources we have purchased to help with this is "Number Talks: Helping Children build Mental Math and Computation Strategies".

Tomorrow morning I am headed into a Grade 2 glass to do one with the students for the first time. I have to admit that I am looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I do not get to be in front of a class teaching as much as I would like and this is giving me an opportunity to do it!

Regardless of the results of tomorrow's 'Math Talk' I am going to offer my services to every class in the school to go in and do one of these lessons. I think there are lots of opportunities here in doing this and one of the most interesting things I am looking forward to is examining the thinking of our students in math.

Here is the 10 Frame Template that I am going to use to introduce the discussion:

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Has anyone else had any experience with Number Talks?