Student Interaction in Math

Conversations to Guide the Inquiry Process

Why do we want student interaction in Math class?

Although the teacher plays and important role in students meaningful math talk, when student engage in conversation in math class it leads to a deeper understand of both problem solving and concepts. Students are encouraged to think, talk, agree and disagree through explanations and justifications of their answers. When students share their reasoning in this way the benefits of student interaction are even more evident.

It's not easy, what is the teacher's role?

For several reasons it is difficult for teachers to guide their students into becoming independent at meaningful math talk. Some challenges that teachers are facing are:

  • discomfort with their own math knowledge
  • lack of professional development
  • increased attention to classroom dynamics
  • lack of time


To get started, teachers will assume the following roles:

  • assign tasks where students are working together to solve the same problem
  • provided instruction and expectations of student's behvaiour during group tasks
  • urge students to share, explain and compare their solutions


Strategies for Encouraging High-Quality Student Interaction

  1. Use rich math tasks
  2. Students justify their answers
  3. Students question each other
  4. Use of wait time
  5. Use of guidelines for math-talk

Prompts to Promote Math Talk

  • "This is my solution/strategy..."
  • "I think _____________ is saying that ..."
  • "I agree because ..."
  • "I disagree because ..."
  • "I would like to build on that idea ..."
  • "This makes me think about ..."
  • "Another way to think about this is ..."