Saturday, June 27, 2015

Intentional Talk Book Study-Chapter 1 "Introduction

This summer I am participating in the Summer Book Study on Twitter hosted by @BridgetDunbar

I'm joining this book study because I really want to learn "how to structure and lead productive mathematical discussions" in my 7th grade math classes this coming school year.  I use the workshop model of delivery and students already do a wonderful job of working collaboratively.  I would like to improve the mathematical discourse during group work time and during whole class discussions. The book study started a week ago and I pretty much took week 1 of my summer vacation to catch my breath and spend some quality time with my family.  I did not join the twitter chat for chapter 1, but posted my answers below.
Question 1:  What steps do you take to set up a classroom environment where students see the importance of classroom discussions?  During the first five days of school I set up the expectations that discussion is an important part of our workshop model, both in collaborative table groups and whole class sharing/reflection.  We model this during our team building activities the first few days.  We also discuss norms and expectations for classroom discussions.

Question 2:  What moves as a teacher do you make to encourage students with low math confidence? How do you engage these reluctant students in classroom discussions?  I really try and build student confidence through pre or reteaching concepts during Core Plus or small group lessons during class.  Sometimes we will have a discussion prior to a class (during Core Plus) about upcoming concepts and students will have the confidence to then contribute in class.  Letting students pair-share or share at table groups prior to having whole class discussions also helps reluctant students to participate more.

Question 3:  What strategy do you use the most?  Which do you want to know more about?  We spend a lot of time having students justify their thinking and answers.  Justification is one of our three report card standards so we model this all the time in class.  We also use the Disciplinary Literacy strategy of Do/What to help students set up good justification of problem solving.  I'm very much interested in learning more about helping students focus on What's Best and Why.  I think it's important for students to realize that some strategies are more efficient than others when problem solving and getting students to discern what is a more efficient strategy will help them become better mathematicians.

Question 4:  As we are ES, MS, HS teachers looking for discussion strategies...How might we support this process at each grade level?  Including the support of students with special needs and ELL...  I think modeling is very important at the middle school level.  Also pre-teaching any requisite skills and vocabulary will help to front load for special needs or ELL students.  Often just making students understand the context of any new vocabulary will be helpful.

Question 5:  What questions about discussions in the math classroom are you hoping to get answered throughout this book study?  I'm just hoping to get tips and strategies or making this sustainable in my classroom.  I'm also looking to gain confidence in my ability to make connections between student thinking.  I also need to hold back and let students make the discoveries together.  I am used to modeling my thinking during the mini lesson portion of workshop so it will be different for me to not jump in and save them if they begin to struggle during a discussion.

I'm really looking forward to spending some time this summer, reflecting on how to improve mathematical discussions in my classroom this coming school year.


  1. Hey Sherrie! I've been going back and forth with jumping in on this book study, but now that I see you are on board maybe I will do it! I have the book and have been reading it here and there I guess I'll follow your lead and do a blog post for the first chapter!
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Robin. Long time no chat. You should definitely jump in. It's a great book. How is workshop going to you? We will have to catch up this summer.


Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Feel free to email me at with any questions you have.