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EXCERPT FROM THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TEACHING WITH MATHEMATICAL DISCOURSE | PART 1 LINDSEY SÖNMEZ WHY DISCOURSE IS IMPORTANT IN MATH

LINDSEY SÖNMEZ

WHY DISCOURSE IS IMPORTANT IN MATH

Valuable Skills. Intentional discourse allows your students to bounce ideas off of each other, construct persuasive arguments, and question the how and the why behind the methods they’ve used to solve a problem. So while developing a deeper understanding of the concepts at hand, they’re also learning valuable skills in verbal communication and mathematical reasoning.

And while this may seem like a simple concept to implement in your classroom, it actually takes a lot of time and practice, consistently encouraging your kids to think meta-cognitively about their mathematical choices. But we’re sure you’ll find that the end result is well worth the effort. A mantra to keep in mind: consistent intentional discourse leads to intentional thinkers.

Mathematical Reasoning. When an answer is not obvious, students naturally resort to questions and discourse to reach a resolution. These tasks strengthen your students’ neural networks, forming a deeper and more memorable conceptual understanding. Your students are more likely to remember the problem-solving strategies that they used—and more importantly, the reasoning behind those strategies—through their productive struggle.

With every new problem they encounter, students build upon their reasoning skills while asking those important questions: “Which strategies are most efficient where, and why? What if one doesn't yield a reasonable answer? What comes next?” And it’s these questions that really get the wheels turning, further instilling the process of mathematical reasoning.

Various Approaches. Despite popular belief (and what most of us learned growing up), math is not a one-way street to the correct answer. Through discourse, you’ll find that students can approach multiple avenues and pathways, all to arrive at the same solution. When we teach the traditional route, oftentimes kids just see numbers and dive right into problem-solving before considering the best approach. In short, reasoning matters.