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Math Talk Sentence Starters

Picture (above) is from Hannah Brasher's seventh grade math classroom. This laminated sheet is on all of the students' tables.
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Five Teaching Practices for Improving the Quality of Discourse in Mathematics Classrooms (and all classrooms)

From: How to Get Students Talking! Generating Math Talk That Supports Math Learning

By Lisa Ann de Garcia


1) Talk moves that engage students in discourse,

2) The art of questioning,

3) Using student thinking to propel discussions,

4) Setting up a supportive environment, and

5) Orchestrating the discourse.


Practice 1: Talk Moves That Engage Students in Discourse For the first practice, the authors of Classroom Discussions propose five productive talk moves that can get talk going in an otherwise silent classroom. The first is revoicing. An example would be, “So you are saying

that... ” This revoicing allows the teacher to check in with a student about whether what the student said was correctly heard and interpreted by the teacher or another student. A way to encourage students to listen to their peers is through asking them to restate someone else’s reasoning, such as, “Can you repeat what he just said in your own words?” Another way is to ask students to apply their own reasoning to someone else’s using questions such as “What do you think about that?” and “Do you agree or disagree? Why?” This helps prevent students from just thinking about what they want to share and focuses their attention on what their classmates are saying. It also helps to strengthen the connections between ideas. Simple questions such as, “Would someone like to add on?” are ways teachers can prompt for further participation. This helps elicit more discussion when not many students are talking, especially when they are not accustomed to explaining their thinking. Again it helps students to tune in to what others are saying so that they are able to expand on someone else’s idea. Perhaps the most valuable talk move suggested by Chapin, O’Connor, and Anderson is the use of wait time. Often teachers are too quick to answer their own questions when no one chimes in. Children quickly become accustomed to this. Waiting provides think time and sets the expectation that someone will indeed respond and that the teacher will wait until someone does. Another important use for wait time is to provide English Language Learners or anyone who needs extra time with an opportunity to process the question and formulate an answer. One teacher reported that in his initial uses of wait time, one of his English Language Learners was able to participate in class discussion for the first time.


To read about the other teaching practices, please click on the link below:

Student Discourse in Language Workshop

What is Language Workshop? In language workshop, teachers organize instruction around genre-specific investigations, author studies, content investigations, and language investigations. In language workshop, teachers conduct interactive read alouds and engage students in thoughtful, rigorous discussions of complex texts in order to build background knowledge and improve listening comprehension. Teachers identify mentor texts, conduct mini-lessons about language use, create co-constructed anchor charts, and guide students to notice vocabulary, powerful words and language (phrases and sentences), and characteristics of genre (text organization, structures, and features). Teachers provide explicit instruction in grammar, punctuation, and conventions of language through literary and informational texts using the workshop approach. Be the first person to ask Mr. Wegner (in person) for a prize: "What is the best present you received for St. Nick's?" Teachers create opportunities to engage in the study of informal and formal language (school and home) and the contexts in which to use them. Teachers also engage students in language investigations and conference with students during Guided Practice to check for understanding.


Video below is from Rosemary Karnowski's seventh grade language workshop lesson (Phase 3). They analyzed the informational structure of Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 feet below the Chilean Desert through discussion and writing.

Language Workshop - Digging into Complex Informational Text
To see the lesson plan for the informational text language workshop, click on the link below:

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Brad Kuntz shared this picture and Bam app information via Twitter. Students are able to instantly critique their own archery form.
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