How Math Talk Changed My Classroom

Last year, I taught math. Only math. All day, everyday. *whew*

The majority of my students would get so frustrated and just freeze up.  They would say things like:

“I just can’t do math!”  

“Math is too hard!”  

“I am not a good math student.” 

Sound familiar?

But.. ya know what.. The more we talked about math, the more they understood it! We shared our strategies, asked questions, and got really comfortable at getting things wrong.  

Ya’ll… this didn’t happen overnight.  This took us a long time!    

I want to share with you one of my favorite tools I used to help students figure out how to verbalize their thinking.

Math Talk Bulletin
I have other colors available too!

I displayed these math talk stems and provided students with their own personal reference.  Each day, I put a word problem on the board.  The students worked it out on their paper as I set a timer. When the timer went off, I allowed the students another 3 minutes to just talk about their math with a partner. Just good ol’ fashioned math talk 😉 

I swear it almost made me cry seeing the transformation in these kids.  They relied so heavily on these stems at first, but after a few weeks, they didn’t really even need them anymore!

I gave them these to keep at their desks to pull out each day during our “math talk.”

Were they all perfect math students because of this tool? Nope.

 But here’s a few things they learned by talking about their work: 

  1. Other people figure things out differently, and I can use different strategies, too. 
  2. Other people get it wrong sometimes… just like me.
  3. I can ask people how they figured it out, and that is helpful to me.  
  4. I can have a conversation with my partner, and we don’t have to fight. (yea.. You get groups like this sometimes.. And this was a win for us!)

I love this tool, and I wanted to share it with you in my new neutral color scheme.  If you would like to get started using math talks in your classroom, you can download this bulletin board and student reference card in my store by clicking here!   

Additional Math Links You May Enjoy 

Click the Image to Get Your Bulletin & Student Reference Sheets!


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