This post contains part three of a four part series about how you can incorporate Math Talk into your classroom in quick and easy way. I have been posting two months at a time to help you ease your students into becoming great math communicators! If you missed my first two postings then you can read PART 1 HERE or PART 2 HERE.

At this point of the school year your students have the expectations and routines understood so now it is time to put those routines in action. I like to challenge my students in a variety of different ways by using one problem, but multiple strategies we have already practiced. I use story problems that I create myself to facilitate the Math Talk lessons. This way I can really focus on a certain type of story problem (result unknown, change unknown, start unknown, doubles, doubles + 1, and so on). Story problems also give students math vocab exposure to help with story problem comprehension.

I created these headers and placed them on the front dry erase board. All of these strategies were the ones my first graders were practicing, but you may want to create your own based on the strategies that your students will be learning. All of these strategies could be used with both addition and subtraction with numbers up to 20. I say this because you really do not want your students practicing inefficient strategies. The circle drawing and counting on box strategies are not efficient with numbers over 20, but works well with numbers up to 20.

I set my Math Talk lesson a bit different than others may. I choose 5 random students to work on one of the strategies at the board (do NOT only choose your high students to go to the board. Student errors on the board create wonderful learning opportunities during the questioning portion of the Math Talk lesson). The other students in the class will be working on the problem using each of the strategies. Once the students at the board are finished then they will quickly and quietly go back to their seats and start working on the sheet as well. I love this method because all the students are engaged for at least the first 5-7 minutes. My quick workers take about that long to finish showing all five strategies and my struggling students at least are attempting or finishing up the circle drawing and maybe the counting on box strategies. This is valuable time for me to walk around and take note on student work and to guide students that may need it. You would be amazed how engaged these students are during this time. If students finish early I will have them turn the paper over, look at the strategies on the board, and write down questions you will have for each of the strategies. It is honestly almost too easy!!

Once students SOVLE the problem and show their strategies then I will have those students that showed their work on the board come up to explain their strategies. Students at their seats will be listening and then thinking of questions to ask each that student about how they solved their work. This questioning takes practice and I will get into this part of Math Talk in the fourth and final posting later this week.

This is an example (above) of how I modify my Math Talk lessons with my class. I moved my students from one digit addition and subtraction to double digit addition. I keep the same format for each of the lessons, but will change the strategies or the order of the strategies to make sure students are always looking at the strategies closely.

To get started with Math Talk in your classroom then you need to come up with a list of strategies you would like your students to know and use. After teaching at least one of the strategies, then you can start the whole group Math Talk. As you teach another strategy then just add it to your list of strategies on the recording sheet. Just make sure your students get used to explaining their strategies first to a partner, then small group, and then whole group. Only take volunteers to explain in the front of the classroom. More shy students will come around and volunteer after a while, but you do know they understand the strategies through their written work and then you can come up to them during work time to hear their explanations. Hearing students explain their strategies is VERY important because you will be able see if they are solving the problem through procedural knowledge or true understanding.

Here is a sneak peek of a product I just finished and will go more into detail in part 4 of the Math Talk posting. This product will teach efficient strategies to your students and have activities to support that teaching.

Have a great week!

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