Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers
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Facilitating Student Communication

What do the standards expect?

The elementary classroom teacher helps students to build the foundations necessary for communicating effectively about mathematics. Ensuring that students begin to learn how to “use the language of mathematics to express mathematical ideas precisely” (NCTM Communication Standard) begins in the early grades. Teachers provide opportunities for communication and facilitate the discussions their students have in classroom and small group settings.

What are some effective strategies?

This collection of resources includes a research article, a webinar, and several videos that show and discuss the challenges teachers face as they attempt to facilitate productive discussion, and suggestions of strategies that enable teachers to effectively overcome these challenges. The teacher’s role is defined and specific practices are described.

How do I implement these practices?

One set of related resources includes an “e-example” from the NCTM website describing how mathematical games can be used to encourage high quality student discussion. A video showing students communicating their thoughts and strategies as they play “Fraction Tracks” is included. Games of this type are interesting to students and allow students to engage in thoughtful mathematical discussions. Participating in these activities also allows students to learn to analyze and evaluate other students' strategies.

A second set of related resources provides an article about using “low threshold, high ceiling” activities, a mathematical puzzle fitting this description, and two videos in which a mentor works with several teachers as they learn how to use the puzzle with their students. Activities of this type allow teachers to encourage students to communicate their ideas, as well as to listen to and analyze ideas presented by other students.

Why is it important at the elementary level?

Providing opportunities for students to communicate with one another using the language of mathematics is an expectation that crosses all grade levels. Teachers at the elementary school level who set these goals early and provide many situations in which students practice discussing, analyzing, and communicating about mathematics ensure their students’ future success.

Created:01-14-2013 by bethb
Last Post:01-17-2013 by bethb

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