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Deepening Math Discourse through Problem Solving

Math Talk
Students are engaged in Math Discourse and are encouraged to communicate their understanding of how they are processing mathematics.

By Margaret Chung, Mathematics Supervisor“Now, turn and talk to your partner and explain how you solved the problem.” “Tell your neighbor if you agree or disagree with their strategy and explain why.” “Please restate what another student said using your own words.” These are commonly heard prompts or “Talk Moves” used by K-12 teachers in math classes across APS. Students are engaged in Math Discourse and are encouraged to communicate their understanding of how they are processing mathematics. Teachers skillfully draw on student-to-student responses to empower them to evaluate and re-evaluate different approaches to solving a problem. In a classroom where students are actively engaged in meaningful discourse, the teacher often becomes the facilitator, allowing students’ thinking to carry the momentum of the learning.
Posing relevant and challenging problems that integrate grade level standards in meaningful contexts help students to explore ways in which mathematics may be applied to solve real problems that may not always have neatly packaged solutions. Solving problems in small groups and pairs builds teamwork and collaboration and lends purpose to why effective communication is needed to convey key ideas to others.Sandra Alba Cauffman was the keynote speaker at the AAUW STEM Conference on Nov. 3 at Kenmore. Cauffman is the Deputy Project Manager for NASA’s next Mars mission, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) and an APS parent. She shared that the essential skills that will be needed to succeed in STEM-related fields are the ability to work well together in teams, problem solve knowing that there may be unexpected problems and solutions, test all solutions, and communicate the process.
The APS Math program is committed to equipping all students to become problem solvers and communicators. Ongoing professional development for math teachers and coaches will focus on using rich performance tasks to formatively assess a student’s ability to apply multiple and appropriate strategies to solve problems and be able to clearly communicate their ideas both orally and in writing. A teacher’s skillful use of Talk Moves will help all students participate and be valued as a member of a mathematic’s learning community. Fully preparing students for the challenges that lay ahead of them in an increasingly complex and unpredictable world will be the priority in the ongoing development of mathematics instruction in APS.