Talk, talk, talk! That thing I try to get them to stop doing half the time! (Be quiet and focus!) But during math, it is probably the most powerful tool I've got in my arsenal.
Not only do we talk to each other during the activity, but after we have had our lesson and activity for the day, we always come back to the circle to talk about our experiences. My favorite question to ask is "What did you discover?" I might also ask:
How did you discover that?
How do you know that's right?
Is this problem (activity, game, etc.) like another? How are they
the same? How are they different?
Did anyone do this in a different way?
Questions can be broad, or get very specific, depending on the concept we are discussing.
Kids share all sorts of tidbits, some of it spot on, and some not so much. But, when kids explain their thinking and strategies, they reveal volumes about what they understand or misunderstand.
I know as teachers, we focus on what kids know and understand, but, we shouldn't overlook the power of learning about our kids' misunderstanding.
When kids describe their thinking and problem solving methods, they have an opportunity to clarify their own ideas. As they listen to others' ideas, they learn to see things from different perspectives.
This week, we were working on the concept of one more and one less. To help the kids 'see' the concept, we built number lines.
We made a chart to record some of our discoveries.
Gone are the days of quiet math class with only the sound of pencil scratching across the paper. These days a good math class has a bit of noise - dice rolling, counters moving, dominoes sliding, cubes stacking -and kids talking!