Today, I decided to introduce the practice of talking about Math in my class. This is called a Math Talk. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) really wants Math teachers to get students to having Socratic seminars around Math. We often hear the term, Socratic seminar, when it comes to reading a book, but it can also be applied to solving math problems. Math Talks adds value to math instruction by:
- Helping students explore multiple solutions to a problem.
- Improving students communication skills.
- Providing opportunities for peer collaboration.
- Improving articulation of math concepts.
- Deepening understanding of math concepts.
By implementing Math Talks in the classroom, teachers will help develop the Common Core Math Practices.
After I described the process of a Math Talk to my students, I showed them the video below.
We discussed some of the things we noticed in the video:
- The teacher posed a question and wrote it on the board.
- Students volunteered to explain how they solved the problem.
- As students explained their solutions, the teacher wrote a visual model on the board for all students to see.
- The teacher also validated their solutions and/or asked probing questions for clarity.
- The other students sat quietly and listened.
- Students used grade level-appropriate math terms.
I decided to use the Math Routine Bank’s Number of the Day to facilitate my first Math Talk with an eighth grade class. I wrote the number, 10, on the board and told students to think of different numbers sentences that will lead to the number on the board. I gave students one minute to think. Then, I asked them for their number sentences. When a student gave me a number sentence, I wrote it on the board. I was prepared to ask them how they arrived at their solutions; however, their number sentences were very basic. I had to challenge them to give me a number sentence with two different operations. Then, I had to challenge them to think of a number sentence with exponents. Here are the results of the conversation:
To avoid simple number sentences, I decided to change the Number of the Day when I facilitated a Math Talk with my seventh grade class. The number I used was -10. This group was very creative with not much prompting. I also decided to organize their responses. I noticed that I wrote the eighth grade responses as random as they were stated. So with seventh grade, I categorized their responses without telling them, but they soon noticed. Here are the results of the conversation: