• Desiree Harrison

3 Ways to Increase Math Talk



Our students have a lot to say, but starting a meaningful conversation around a concept in math can be difficult.

Help your students feel immediate success and continue to grow throughout the year with these helpful tips from Kid's Math Talk.

#1 Post sentence stems around the room for easy access all year long

How to start accountable talk shouldn't be a secret. Active visuals in your room will help students eventually internalize these behaviors, actions, and words. I emphasize the word "active" because you as the teacher should be modeling and pointing out these posters to students so that expectations are clear and so that these posters do not fade into the background.

You should have "walls that talk" to students all year long. Hang posters (as they are introduced to students) along your math wall. You can even number them so that you have multiple ways to reference the posters.

#2 Practice makes permanent


Spend time practicing how to use sentence stems, questions, and vocabulary when responding to others in the subject of math. This can be the first five minutes of your math workshop.

The key is to keep is specific and clear, but quick so that students do not get burned out. Think of planting the ideas in their minds and then they will take off with using what you give them!

For the Math Talk Bookmarks, start with one group of sentence stems (I suggest the questioning group) and master those before expecting the correct use of sentence stems from other groups. The types of sentence stems are color-coded so they are easier to reference and talk about as a class.

In the Math Talk Bookmarks pack there are over 70 sentence stem practice pages of varying levels to help all students become more familiar with responding to math problems.


#3 Give students the power

Once students are more familiar with the sentence starters, leave the posters hanging, but also pass out and start referencing a bookmark version of all the sentence starters.

This will encourage students to start using a variety of stems based on need (in more subjects than just math too!), and will help them feel empowered.

Compliment students on their use of these sentence stems and they will naturally want to incorporate them more into their verbal and written speech. Feedback (timely and specific!) is crucial here.

Also, don't let students lose sight of important math talk words that are no longer a part of the unit focus! Have students create a keep a Math Talk Picture Dictionary so that they have access to key vocabulary all year long!


Kid's Math Talk has three different themed packs of the Math Talk Bookmarks Click here to learn more.

#math #strategies

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