Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mathematical Conversations

Mathematical conversations are a technique that I learned over a year ago, but never put it into practice.  This year I am going to give it a go and I am hoping that it helps some students solidify vocabulary and procedures.

The technique is pretty simple.  The teacher writes a script that the students will read in partners or triads.  The students then put on their best acting abilities and read the script with each other.  The script should be read through at least twice and students should change roles.  The script does not have to be long, but should be focusing on key vocabulary, procedures, or concepts that students aren't understanding.

After students are comfortable with the way a mathematical conversation should be in the class, they can try their hand at writing their own for the class to read or acted out by the authors.  It is a great way to get writing happening in the math classroom!  Student written or teacher written scripts could make a possible activity for a station.  Several scripts as stations could be a review activity as well.

My first attempt at trying to write a mathematical conversation is below this paragraph.  I picked the topic of subtracting integers because it is reviewed in the text and I know that this was hard for the kiddos last year.  As Algebra students,
they have to be comfortable with the subtracting integers.  My conversation is longer than what it should be.  In reality, it should be less than a page.  I just wanted to try and bring in some conceptual understanding too.  I am also debating if I should go with the traditional rule of "add the opposite" or stick with the "keep, change, change" rule that I went with last year.  For consistency, "keep, change, change" really is the better choice.  If the conversation would be useful to you, you are welcome to it.


  1. Cool! I like it! I am looking for things for my Pre-AP kiddos to do as projects. I like the idea of this.

    1. So happy that this idea was helpful to you! Hope you students enjoy it!