TLLP Reflections: Math Talk Moves

Our TLLP team is continuing to explore new learning partnerships with our students in math, focused on student inquiry, and the meaningful application of assessment for, as and of learning. Our project aims to improve student learning in K-6 Numeracy, while at the same time leveraging the power of digital tools like the use of iPads and blogging to improve student outcomes in the areas of 6C’s (creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, citizenship, character, and problem solving). The focus of our last meeting (and future meetings) is improving Talk Moves in math, as well as in other subject areas. Teachers were asked to record themselves during a minds-on and/or a consolidation meeting. Throughout the day teachers in our group listened to and reflected on their Talk Moves to identify their strengths and next steps.

Here is the Slide Deck from the day (notes included):

Here are the Math Talk Moves Anchor Charts we created (feel free to make a copy, modify, and use these posters in your own classroom!)

These are some reflections from the group . . .

Jenna Lange

After listening to a recording of myself during a minds-on math lesson, I have recognized that despite my efforts, I need to continue to practice using various math talk moves. I need to continue to recognize the value there is on taking a step back and allowing the students to lead the discussion in a respectful manner. I need to figure out how to continue to engage students despite the use of accountability (e.g. cards) and wonder if allowing them an opportunity to speak with a partner before giving a response will help promote their confidence in sharing their thinking.

Going forward into my classroom, I am going to work on  student restatements, wait time and student generated discussions and questions to generate greater student accountability and deeper understanding of math content. I need to recognize that it is okay for me not to interrupt the uncomfortable silence and allow for this wait time. Finally, I realize the importance of remaining neutral when students give responses in order to avoid creating leading responses as opposed to student generated.

Hilary Reinecker

I was not very familiar with the concept of math talk prior to our meeting today and I feel like I came away with, not only useful information to implement in my teaching, but also a realization of some things I do when teaching that I need to adjust (i.e. I do too much of the talking).  My initial next steps are going to be to talk less and encourage more talking between both the students and I and the students and each other. I am also going to work on providing more processing time after a question has been asked AND after an answer has been given. In our discussions (class and smaller group) I am also going to work to have students restate and revoice to encourage repetition of ideas and our understanding of each other.

Another day with so much great information!!

Nicole King

I really enjoy teaching math. It makes sense to me as there is logic and clear pathways to learning. Spending time reflecting on my teaching practice and how I use math talk in my classroom has been worthwhile. It allows the time to reflect on what I am doing well, and next steps to what I need to attempt to provide an opportunity for richer conversations between my students. This is not a new concept, but will be something I really need to focus on again with my students as for whatever reason, I slip back into old (and perhaps, less effective teaching habits).

Some reminders I took away from today to embed into my next math lessons:

~ Teacher needs to talk less and stop ‘saving’ students by answering for them as whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning

~ Focus on star shaped discussions (teacher then student, student, student) vs teacher/student/teacher/another student

~ Wait time is required not only after a teacher’s question, but also after student questions and student statements

~ Teacher needs to remain neutral in responses and allow repetition of ideas rather than moving on and accepting the first right answer

~ Asking deeper questions using the Q-chart (also allowing students to ask deeper questions)

~ Co-create anchor charts starting to introduce the math talk language

Lots of reminders, refreshers that hopefully will show deeper understanding for my students. Slow down doesn’t mean more time, more questions, but being more efficient in the time we do have to process and apply with deeper understanding.

Here we go…

Charlene Stein

New Learning:
-even if a student gives a correct answer, ask further questions to clarify understanding.  The discussion isn’t finished with a correct answer
-we need to build our students’ capacity to communicate
-the teacher’s role is to re-voice and bring clarity
-“the person doing the talking is doing the learning – never say anything that a child can say”

-how much wait time to I allow during discussions?
-am I asking questions that promote deeper thinking?
-do all of my students feel that their input is valued?  Have I created a safe environment in my class?
-If I allow more opportunities to turn and talk, will I get more student engagement?

Next Steps:
-remember to allow wait time after asking a question before turn and talk
-during consolidation, ask the class to articulate strategies they notice in student work, rather than asking the students having completed the work to share
-try using the popcicle stick strategy for student participation

Anne McBride

The big idea of ‘What is Math Talk’ – is a concept that even though already exposed to in the past, we were all able to learn so much more about!

What is my new learning?

We explored a chart of effective questions to ask students during math talk. The questions could be placed on a spectrum from simpler questions to rich & deeper questions that spark critical thinking and encourage increased communication. Moving towards deeper questions takes student answers from being one to three words long to more in depth full sentences. To prepare for our gathering today we recorded ourselves teaching a math lesson to review and analyze today (we recorded a minds on or a consolidation portion of our lesson) – what an eye opening and worth while task! My next step will be to take my questioning away from the simpler: what is? Where is? who is? and move towards: when will? how might? why would?

Another next step on improving my classroom math talk will be to encourage the star formation in our classroom discussions: teacher – student – student- student – student…as opposed to the traditional back and fourth: teacher – student – teacher – student. Moving towards deeper and rich questions will help foster increased student communication to make this possible. Along with this I have learned about the importance of giving students more wait time! As teachers we often jump in when there is silence to ‘save’ our students. I want to move towards employing longer wait times (an important aspect of math talk) to…not interrupt student thinking, to slow down and give students more time to contribute.

Kim Littleton

Wow, what a great day of learning!  I consolidated my thinking/learning about math talk in the classroom today.  Susan G.M. provided us with many resources to further our thinking around math talk.  I learned from listening to a video by Lucy West, that students have 2 responsibilities in the classroom: to speak and be heard and to listen and expect to be listened to.  I also learned that by slowing down consolidation discussions and allowing students  to hear/restate/listen to concepts numerous times, it allows for deeper understanding of math concepts.  Today our group collaborated to create a series of posters to help us implement math talk into our classrooms effectively, and I am looking forward to using the two strategies of Restating (students share their learning in their own words), and asking, “Who is ready to restate?”, in my classroom as my next step.  I’m wondering if allowing this extra time for students to listen to key ideas and concepts, will enable them to retain their math learning with less time needed for review in the future.  Time will tell!

Sherrie Hearn-Smith

Today, we focussed on math talk. It was a timely reminder of comparing the percentage of time that I spend talking during math class compared to the amount of time that the students spend talking. My new learning would be to step back and try to generate more student talk and questions. Whoever is doing the talking, does the learning. Also, that it is good for students to revoice the main ideas a number of times so that the last few students can catch on. I need to include more wait time after students give answers as well as after questions. This will stop their thinking from being interrupted. For next steps, I will be attempting to implement those ideas in my math class.

Allison Plumsteel

Math Talk!! We spent the day today learning about Math Talk and how it can have a positive effect on student achievement. It first starts with the student’s responsibilities to speak up and to listen and expect to be listened to. This begins with creating a culture and expectations about what active listening looks like and how to do it. There are several key Math Talk Moves and we created anchor charts for each move. This will be a helpful resource to keep my own goals of increasing math talk in my classroom, on track.

Next Steps: I will help my students develop an understanding and practise active listening skills. I will also begin to try using the Math Talk Moves in my own daily practises. Lastly, I will have my students use “I can/I know” statements more often to document their learning and understanding.

Kerri-Lynn Case Schepers

New Learning:

-we were introduced to ‘Talk Moves’ strategies to use in the Math Classroom (adapted from Classroom Discussions:  Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Chapin et al, 2009)

-discussed the importance of conversations in the math classroom and how it allows students to ‘negotiate meaning together‘ (ideas, opinions, strategies, solutions), which ultimately increases their depth of understanding

-we created and printed off Math Talk Moves anchor charts for our Math classroom using Google Slides

-used Popplet and Padlet to share our background knowledge and new learning throughout the day

Next Steps:

-I need to work on having my students become more accustomed to explaining why they say what they say

-I also need to give my students more time to turn and talk with other classmates in order to give them an opportunity to clarify their thinking in a low-risk setting


-Will using Talk Moves in my math classroom not only improve my students understanding, but their retention of math concepts as well?

One thought on “TLLP Reflections: Math Talk Moves”

  1. Dear TLLP group,
    While reading this over, I was amazed that I had already forgotten to use wait time after answers as well as questions. It’s sad that I needed to be reminded of some of my next steps again so soon after our last meeting. I’m a work in progress trying to fit all of these pieces together at the same time. I am finding it hard to get talk going in a star formation rather than tennis formation. I will start working on that way earlier next year.



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