“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Math Chat

Do you have a Math Chat learning community in your classroom?  

In your classroom, this means: 
• making both students and teacher responsible for asking questions; 
• providing a supportive environment whereby students can confidently express their understandings, and explain, defend, and justify their mathematical thinking to others in the class; 
• confirming that students are recognized as important sources of mathematical ideas by regarding their suggestions as valid and worthy of further exploration; 
• encouraging problem solving in a variety of ways with students collaborating in reasoning and explaining solutions; 
• requiring students to take responsibility for their own learning by asking questions in class, demonstrating their understanding of problems, and sharing their solutions with others.
( Math Talk Learning Community: Professional Learning Guide, MOE, http://bit.ly/10Wwdrf)

I do not use a traditional textbook in my classroom.  I don't find that it best meets the needs of my gifted students.  I  used one for one year, but both the students and myself were utterly frustrated and the students academic results were not what they should have been. I abandoned the text book and went with what I know best~ hands-on, minds-on instruction.  

If you have read my earlier posts you will know my students create a "Math Survival Guide" the first week of school.  They use this all year to learn the important mathematics vocabulary we are studying.  I believe that it is important to activate prior knowledge before starting a new unit, and this is one strategy that helps with that.  It gives the students and myself a chance to see what they already know, and find out what they still need to learn.  As the unit continues students revise and add information to their survival guides.  They use them frequently in daily work, and for studying and reviewing before quizzes and tests.

This year I also started using Interactive Math Notebooks.  We only started these part way through the year, but so far this approach has integrated well with how I structure math instruction in my classroom.   For example, I find using the Guides to Effective Instruction in Mathematics with my classes to be highly engaging.  The contents of these documents are organized by grade, and material related to a specific grade can be pulled out and used on its own.  The activities/investigations in these guides fit really well with the format and structure of an interactive math notebook.

I particularly like how the guides take into account the specific needs of junior learners.  The graphic below illustrates how important Math Chat is to the junior student.  Math Chat supports intellectual, physical, psychological  social, and moral and ethical development.

Structuring the Math Chat classroom, the teacher must take into account the social/emotional needs and development of the students.  One strategy that supports Math Chat is the creation of Anchor Charts.  "Anchor Charts are developed together with the class to make thinking permanent and visible. They allow the class to clarify thinking, make connections, and/or remember a specific skill, strategy, or concept. These skills will be used throughout the year while doing group work/ cooperative activities. The charts can be kept and reviewed periodically, as needed." 

Before introducing Math Chat to my class, I made sure we reviewed each social skill listed below (Encouraging Others, Taking Turns, Active Listening and Summarizing, Including All Participants and Disagreeing in an Agreeable Way).

I did not want to keep reminding students of HOW to discuss math problems and math investigations while we working in groups, so I decided to create some speech bubbles and place a Math Chat sentence stem in each one.  I have found that the students refer to them often, and when they get off track, I can redirect them and point at them posted on the wall.

You can download a FREE preview by clicking on the image below.  

I hope you love your FREEBIE!  
If you decide you would like to purchase the entire set of Math Chat speech bubbles CLICK on the image below to get the entire set of over 20 bubbles!

If you are interested in standardized test preparation be sure to come back on Friday for the 
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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  1. Thank you!!! I struggle with math talk so much some days. This will be great for my kiddos! I look forward to implementing it!
    First Grade Buddies

  2. Tamra,
    Let me know how it works for you! I find that I often point to the speech bubbles in tense moments or I review some of the main prompts/responses at the beginning of a lesson/investigation. I wish you all the best with implementing this approach!