Enhancing Math Instruction Through Discourse, Dialogue, and Debate

It is my philosophy that all math lessons should facilitate and encourage problem solving and critical thinking. Simply stated, I believe that thinking should be pushed as deep as each individual can take it. One way to push thinking is through student-driven and teacher facilitated math discourse.

Facilitated Math Discourse

Image result for The one doing the talking is the one doing the learning

Both my personal experience and empirical evidence proves that facilitated mathematical discourse is a high-leverage instructional strategy to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. Below are the steps and supports that have enhanced the mastery learning of my students matched with current lessons we have done involving fractions.

Post talk moves/prompts that get students involved in discourse.

The best way to get a conversation started is by asking a question. Below is a simple chart I posted to spark a conversation. The students then had the opportunity to present their ideas in a digital format using a Google Classroom question. The students were able to post their mathematical ideas and also comment and analyze the posts of their classmates.


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Create an accepting culture for discourse, dialogue, and debate. 

Below is an example of the students defending their mathematical thinking in a debate format. This allowed the students to hear the perspectives of their classmates, as well as further explain and provide evidence to support their thinking.

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It is amazing to hear students engage in mathematical conversation geared towards defending their ideas with EVIDENCE. YES they are in 3rd grade… 🙂

The “YES” Team 

The “NO” Team 

Allow for exploration and inquiry. 

I truly believe that through exploration and inquiry true learning occurs and mathematical discourse is born.

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