Rimon Bouchiba July 7, 2020 Math Worksheets
What is math talk?
This buzz phrase "math talk" is popping up more and more in educational discourse. But what exactly is it? Math talk encompasses the philosophy that while math is known as the universal "language", students still need to be taught how to specifically use mathematical vocabulary to express themselves to others, just as they would within the world of language arts. The specific "math talk" that one uses could be classified as the Tier 3 vocabulary that is specific to the different strands within mathematics. For example, one could not have a meaningful and deep conversation about geometry without understanding and correctly using math talk words such as rectangle, parallelogram, right angle, and rhombus. Thus, educators need to focus not just on identifying those shapes, but also on exploring the origin and relationship of these words in order to create a lasting meaning for students. It works in the same way for the other strands of mathematics, such as Number and Operations in Base Ten and Measurement and Data. Students need to explore math with pictures, numbers, and words in order to become truly proficient mathematicians in the real world.
The Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice have helped promote this philosophy of math talk to a broad number of educators. More specifically, the 6th practice, Attend to Precision, has granted educators the specific language needed in order to talk about the importance of students using math talk. Before the official introduction of the 6th Mathematical practice, pseudo-mathematical answers like, "I just knew it", "I didn't use a strategy" and "I just used my fingers to solve" were the common practice for many students. But now educators have been exposed to the key word of "precision" that can be passed on to students with the introduction and use of math talk in the classroom.
Ms. Harrison's 5 Step Plan for Starting Math Talk in your classroom
1. Word Wall
The grade level that you teach will determine how many words you have on the word wall. I teach third grade and the maximum number I have at any one time is five words so that students are not overwhelmed. At the start of each math workshop, we recite each word aloud. This is so that students have multiple exposure each day to hearing and saying the specific math talk words we will be using for each given unit. I hand write the words in black marker on bright yellow construction paper and place on a wall chart so that the words are true attention grabbers. I generally leave words on this chart between three days and two weeks, depending on the targets of the lessons.
Suggestions for the number of math talk words by grade levels:
K and 1st grade - 3 words (only one that is truly unfamiliar. The others should be words that students have a generally grasp on.)
2nd grade - 4 words (two that are unfamiliar and two which are familiar to students)
3rd grade - 5 words (three that are unfamiliar)
4th and 5th grade - 5 words (four that are unfamiliar)
2. Student Access to Math Vocabulary
Since the word wall will only have a maximum of five words at a time, it is important that students have access to the vocabulary words that were once on the wall, but are no longer there. Students add to their Math Talk Picture Dictionaries in my classroom at the end of each unit. This way they are familiar with all od the words that are a part of their dictionaries. Adding pictures that the students create will help them make connections with the words. You can also use this as a formative assessment. I have students house their dictionaries as one section of their data binders.
3. Math Talk Bookmarks for Sentence Starters
Even with the math talk word wall and picture dictionary, students often have trouble starting conversations. This is where sentence starters can come in handy. I have ten different ways for students to start their conversation with their partners and the class condensed in a friendly bookmark form. Some examples can be found below.
I agree with you because...
I disagree with you because...
I hear you saying that...
4. Interacting with Math Literacy Books
Just as with language arts, exploring the writing of authors helps guide students for their own writing. There are many different authors, such as Marilyn Burns and Brian Clearly, that are excellent models of mathematical writing while being fun at the same time! I have Math Literacy as an option in math workshop where students also respond to the books by writing down the "math talk" words in their notebooks.
5. Interactive Math Notebooks
Students in my room cherish their math notebooks because it houses their thinking, class work, and lots of foldables. We keep this organized with a table of contents along with numbering each page and given it a title and date. This will serve as a record of student learning all year long and can be used as a study tool and can be collected for formative assessments. Sometimes we answer math talk prompts in our notebooks. A few examples can be found below.
1. How would you explain this problem to a 1st grader?
2. Use 3 math talk words in your explanation and box those words.
3. How can you prove that you have a rectangle and not a square?
4. Create a story about the quadrilateral family and use at least 5 geometry math talk words.
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