Teachers Promoting Mathematical Discourse: Fraction Explorations by Fourth Graders

PurposesEffective teaching; Lesson activity; Student collaboration; Student engagement; Reasoning
DescriptionDeveloping and promoting discourse in mathematics has become a larger focal point in the math classroom in recent years. Although research pointing to the value of students’ constructing their own arguments and collaborating with others has been around for decades, it has only recently become part of the mainstream teaching standards. The Common Core State Standards now have included the constructing of arguments and critiquing of others’ arguments as the third of their eight Standards for Mathematical Practice. One implication of this Standard is the need to better prepare teachers to promote mathematical discourse in the classroom.

A professional development program called MDISC (Mathematics Discourse in Secondary Classrooms) was created through collaboration between Michigan State University and the University of Delaware. The programs’ Principal Investigators have outlined six specific Teacher Discourse Moves (TDMs) that teachers can use to promote discourse in the classroom. They are: Waiting, Inviting student participation, Revoicing, Asking students to revoice, Probing a student’s thinking, and Creating opportunities to engage with another’s reasoning (Herbel-Eisenmann, Cirillo and Steele 2013).

The following analytic is a selection of events taken from two early sessions of a twenty-five session fraction intervention done in a fourth grade classroom in Colts Neck, NJ in 1993. In these sessions, the students have been tasked with comparing the fractions 2/3 vs. 1/2 and then 3/4 vs. 1/2. In each problem, the students must answer the question which fraction is larger and by how much?

This analytic showcases some of the TDMs that the researchers employ during the lessons and how the students respond to those moves. The students are repeatedly encouraged to not only provide an answer, but to justify their answers. The researchers probe students with open-ended questions and encourage students to revoice their ideas. Their actions provide examples of how TDMs can promote higher-level mathematical exploration and thinking in the classroom.

Herbel-Eisenmann, B., Cirillo, M., & Steele, M. (2013). (Developing) Teacher Discourse Moves: A Framework for Professional Development. Math Teacher Educator, Vol. 1, No. 2, March 2013
Created on2013-08-21T15:26:35-0400
Published on2015-06-17T08:35:54-0400
Persistent URLhttp://dx.doi.org/doi:10.7282/T34F1SHF