Sunday, August 10, 2014

Math Talk…..The Big Math Trend Making a Difference (If you do it correctly) PART 2 of 4

This is part 2 of 4 of the Number Talk/Math Talk guide.  If you did not read part 1 of this series, click HERE 

Your students should have that critical understanding of quantity of number and basic Math Talk at the end of the first two months of school.  October and November will be a time to get your students used to your expectations and really setting up structure in your classroom. 

3 Key Components of Math Talk

1.You will need to build a cohesive classroom that encourages mathematics conversations that are safe, supportive, and risk free.  State your expectations before each math lesson.  In first grade I like to create learning targets to refer to and that are applicable to every Math Talk session.  Here are three examples I have created according to the needs of my students. 


2.  Classroom Discussions
When you first present each problem, ask the students to first try solving using mental math.  Mental math encourages students to build on number relationships to solve problems instead of relying on memorized procedures. 

When students come up with an answer, have them place their fist to their chest with their thumb up to show they have an answer.  Once they have an answer then they will put one finger up for every other strategy they come up with on that same hand.  This gives you an opportunity to challenge your advanced students and give more time for struggling students to come up with one answer.  This is a great time for you to walk around the group and ask questions to check for understanding. 

Clip art created by  Melonheadz Illustrating

Clip art created by Melonheadz Illustrating

Once the class have their answers and strategies, then I always give my students a chance to practice explaining their strategy with a partner.  I assign math spots in a circle arrangement on the floor and then I partner students up that are next to them.  They are grouped heterogeneously so I have some control of the learning process.   Group students that work well together and I would suggest grouping your high students with students that are more of the mid to higher math students, rather than with your lowest.

When I group my students, I will roughly rank (number order) my students from high to low according to overall strength in mathematics.  I will then divide my class in half and group my highest students in the class with the highest middle students.  My struggling students will then be grouped with the middle students.
Example:  10 students in my class (Don't I wish :)!)
Student #1 grouped with student # 6
Student #2 grouped with student #7
Student #3 grouped with student #8
Student #4 grouped with student #9
Student # 5 grouped with students #10

3.  Purposeful Computation Problems
The problems you choose to have your students work on need to guide students to focus on specific mathematical relationships.  The teacher is responsible for deciding what the learning target will be, choosing numbers that are in an acceptable range for the needs of your students, and making sure your students understand_____________________________________

Here is an example:
I always choose my Math Talk problems as a form of review or challenge of the previous day’s focus.  If we have been working on addition and subtraction to 20 and using circle drawings to show our work, then the next day I will have my students try to solve a similar type-problem using mental math, base ten blocks and leftover ones, and so on.  I do not want my students to become comfortable with one strategy.  Flexibility in thinking is a main focus I want my students to understand in mathematics.

If you like these learning targets and teach the Math Expression Common Core Edition, then check out this product.  I have designed every single first grade lesson into learning targets/ I Can statements.  All have lesson vocabulary listed along with a teaching examples on every target.  You can check out this product here in my store
The next posting will be part 3 of Math Talk (Dec/Jan).  This is where it gets good!  Prepare to be amazed with what first grade students are able to do!!


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  2. Love the math talk posters! They would work very well as anchor charts in our math area ...!

    1. Thanks Karen! You know how to get a hold of me if you would like copies!

  3. How do I get a copy of these posters? Would love to have them!

  4. I love the Math Talk posters too! I looked on your TpT site but didn't see them there either. I would love a copy!

  5. How do I get a copy of these posters? I'm starting math talks and they are exactly what I'm looking for to help students.

  6. How do I get a copy of these posters? I'm starting math talks and they are exactly what I'm looking for to help students.