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What did you discover? Math talks!

What are kids doing in math these days?  Talking!
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!


  1. Great post! They learn so much from each other, and I learn so much about their understandings and misunderstandings when I expect them to talk. "How do you know?" is one of my favorite questions to ask. :)
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. My favorite part is listening to them talk to each other during the activity. They are so darn cute when they try to explain things to a friend:)

  2. Great number talk questioning! Definitely going to use these.
    What are your kids placing the cubes on for building number lines? Looks like a measuring tape?

    1. I actually inherited these from another teacher years ago! They are adhesive number lines (to 20) that she put onto poster board strips. I like the size because they are bigger than the ones on their nameplates and easier for the kids to use.