# 7 Ways to Increase MATHS TALK and Not Just TALK ABOUT MATHS.

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Longstanding research of Alexander, Barnes and Mercer has informed much of the thinking for this blog. If we genuinely want to enhance the quality of interactions in mathematics, with a particular emphasis on extending learners thinking (reasoning) and mathematical talk, then we need to carefully consider the kind of high-quality discussion that will develop children’s mathematical understanding. But what will provide the right kind of talk; and how can we help strengthen its power to help children think and learn more effectively than they do?

**Where to begin?**

**Here are some simple and impactful ways to create opportunities for thinking, talking, engaging and enjoying mathematics whilst increasing maths talk and not just talk about maths.**

1. Asking children **ROUTINELY** to verbalise their thinking and accept what they say (including their wrong answers) helps to unearth misconceptions and learn from their mistakes. In this way we are helping them to become **MATHEMATICALLY POWERFUL!**

** 2. ****LISTEN. ** Listening to learners is as equally important as TALKING. Learners also learn to become active listeners.

In his column in The New York Times, “Nine Nonobvious Ways to Have Deeper Conversations,” David Brooks offers nine specific suggestions to help us think about connecting with people in meaningful ways. Inspired by his column, Marilyn Burns adapts his suggestions to address having meaningful and important conversations with K–5 students about maths through Listening to Learn interviews.

**3. Change questions from…**

**‘WHAT ANSWER DID YOU GET?’**

**to . . .**

A one way approach doesn’t help children learn to think flexibly and develop number sense. An important key to developing number sense is asking children to explain their thinking – at all times! **Constantly probing:**

These prompts also send out valuable, important messages to children:

- That you value their ideas
- That maths is about reasoning and sense making not memorising.

**4. PLANNING PLAYFUL PRACTICE**

- Using Props and Stories - Props and stories are highly motivating for young children who readily engage with the maths in fantasy ‘real-world’ problems and the ‘wow’ factor of sharing their thinking whilst handling larger (or smaller) than life props.

__CREATING TALK HABITS__

Making choices about whether and when to use a question or statement or a quizzical look as part of your interactions with children is vital to creating purposeful talk habits in maths.

**5. ADOPT A PHRASE - fewer questions more invitations?**

Adopt a phrase to encourage children to think (and think in different ways)

- Build upon children’s responses that idea seems to link with what we were saying about… and so now we can think (can you think) about….

- Give feedback that informs and prompts children to take the next steps (and also encourages!)
**"Great! I can see where your idea has come from because… and now…."**

- Aid reflection by… Repeating, word-for-word what a child has said or use some to the following prompts:

*“What do you think (about...)?”*

*“Can you teach me about that?”*

*“Think about the maths for a minute.”*

*“What was going on inside your head when..?”*

*“Can you say a bit more about..?”*

*“I’m not going to say anything more because I want you to.”*

# **LOOKING FOR IMPACTFUL PHRASES TO USE WITH YOUR CHILDREN? Click on the **link below!

** 6. ALWAYS. SOMETIMES. NEVER. This is a very RICH TASK that has been a****dapted from NRICH.**

Can you find examples or counter-examples for each one?

For the “sometimes” cards can you explain when they are true? Or rewrite them so that they are always true or never true?

**7. ORGANISING MATHS LESSONS TO PROMOTE MATHS TALK…**

- Mixed ability trios so that all children can achieve – maths isn’t just for ‘clever’ children

- creatively about organising classroom furniture that supported maths talk in groups

- Other devices that younger children clearly enjoyed at the same time as being prompted to share their thinking included discussing your maths problem with a duck!
**“***if you are stuck, talk to a duck!”*

Talk is central to Mathematical learning. Children need to be encouraged to talk mathematics not just about mathematics. Talk really has the potential to be such a powerful **TOOL** in learning and using mathematics. But equally important is listening.

**I’d love to hear your thoughts on Maths TALK. Which ideas resonate with you? What do you disagree with? All views are welcome - post in the comments. **

**Thank you for all you do to support your children's number journey. Thank you for watching and listening.**

**Love, Janey x**

** References **

Alexander, R. (2008) Dialogic Teaching and the Study of Classroom Talk A Developmental Biography.

Barnes, D. (2008) Exploratory Talk for Learning in Mercer, D. and Hodgkinson, S (2013 edition) Exploring Talk in School London

Dooley, T., (2009) Primary pupils in whole-class mathematical conversation.

Mason, J. (2010) Effective Questioning and Responding in the Mathematics Classroom

Williams, H. (2015) Role play and mathematics – a problem or a solution? In Primary Mathematics Summer 2015 Volume 19 issue 2 The Mathematical Association

Yackel, et al. (1990) Interaction and Learning in Mathematics Classroom Situations In Educational Studies in Mathematics, Vol. 23, No. 1, Classroom Dynamics