Developing Classroom Discourse

Developing Classroom Discourse

Classroom discourse is an essential aspect of a math classroom. Students are grouped to ensure academic diversity.  They then work with their peers to solve complex and rich tasks.  The discussions emerging from this situation are essential to the students’ learning.1 Research has shown that we consolidate mathematical ideas by communicating them. 

In a math classroom the priority is problem solving, reasoning, and evaluation of mathematical situations (Small, 2010). 

“The learning climate must include positive personal relationships that enhance development through meaningful conversations, a sense of care for the whole student that goes beyond academic concerns.  The nurturing classroom meets the holistic needs of students — social, emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual.”2 (Williams, n.d., p. 24).

Respect is more than tolerance and inclusion – it requires dialogue and collaboration.

8 Ways: Aboriginal pedagogy from Western New South Wales. Dubbo, NSW, Australia: The Bangamalanha Centre (2012)

Questions for Reflection

Do I ask open-ended questions? 

Do I encourage students to ask questions of each other?

Do I expect students to explain all their answers, regardless of whether the answer is correct?

Do I model listening attentively to all answers?

Do I use group or whole class discussions to determine whether an answer is correct  (rather than being the authority)?

Do I model respect for multiple strategies for solving a problem?

1 Hattie, J., Fisher, D., Frey, N., Gojack, L., Delano Moore, S., & Mellman, W. (2016). Visible learning for mathematics, grades K-12. Corwin Publishers.

2Williams, Chad. (n.d.) Teaching and Understanding Elementary Mathematics:  A companion document to the Saskatchewan Mathematics Curriculum.  Unpublished manuscript.