Whole-class discussions provide students the opportunity to articulate, represent, connect, and consolidate mathematical ideas. In order for classroom discussions to be productive, it is important for teachers to:
- build a mathematical community in which students are prepared to listen actively and contribute ideas
- focus discussions on key mathematical ideas
- encourage the participation of all students
- set up the classroom in a way that supports discussion
In order to establish a community in which students share ideas and listen to each other, teachers and students need to work together at the beginning of the year to establish norms for math discussions.
Read cases about how teachers design and facilitate beginning of the year math discussions at grade: K (pdf), 1 (pdf),
2 (pdf), 3 (pdf), 4 (pdf).
Involving all students in math discussions, including those with special needs, is critical. Strategies such as keeping discussions short and focused and getting students actively engaged help make discussions useful learning time for all students.