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Why Math Talk is the Right Solution for Inquiry-Based Learning, Teaching

Why Math Talk is the Right Solution for Inquiry-Based Learning, Teaching

Building confidence in math, using Math Talk in the classroom provides frequent opportunities for students to deepen their understanding of concepts while explaining their mathematical thinking and asking questions of other explainers.

Math Talk is a crucial component of an effective mathematics classroom, according to research. Findings show it impacts math learning and teaching by helping students develop deep conceptual understanding while they practice, apply, and discuss what they know with skill and confidence.

Enriching Discussions
Supporting an inquiry environment that enriches constructive discussion of problem-solving methods through well-defined classroom activity structures, Math Talk includes four components: questioning, explaining math thinking, contributing math ideas, and taking responsibility for learning.

Initially, teachers and more advanced students will model how to formulate explanations. In the beginning, teachers concentrate on building listening skills and eliciting comments from students. Using questions helps students expand their explanations.

Research shows that the Solve, Explain, Question, and Justify participant structure (also referred to as Solve and Discuss) is effective in engaging all students in Math Talk. The teacher selects four or five students (or as many as space allows) to go to the classroom board and solve a problem, using any method they choose. Their classmates work on the same problem at their desks. Then the teacher chooses two or three students and asks them to explain their work to the group. Questioning prompts students to clarify their thinking and explain their drawings or representations, as they share their ideas and methods.

The structure of Math Talk allows all students to have a chance to participate and explain their solutions, clarify their thinking, make generalizations, and analyze structure.


Five Core Structures
Helping Community is one of five research-based components that are the organizational touchstones of the Math Expressions program. These Five Core Structures also include Building Concepts, Math Talk, Student Leaders, and Quick Practice.

These structures are not static. They are interactive. They work together and support one another. The research project that spearheaded its development found that using the Five Core Structures in the classroom enables children from all backgrounds to learn mathematics with understanding, fluency, and confidence.

With over ten years of development and funding from the National Science Foundation, Math Expressions is a research-based Kindergarten–Grade 6 elementary mathematics program. Its inquiry-based approach drives active instruction, student engagement, and proven results.

To learn how Math Expressions helps schools build confidence and elevate learning to ensure sense-making in math, download the program overview for more on what’s included.

Topics: Mathematics, Community, Math, Methods, Math@Heinemann, Heinemann Math, Math Expressions, Teaching Math

Date Published: 07/26/23

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