HOPE Standard Post: Using Math Talk Moves to Grow as a Math Instructor

E1- Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice.

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This evidence shows the 1st grade mathematicians and myself doing “math talk”, as we organize our monthly unifix data collection.

To me, the HOPE standard of exemplifying professionally informed growth-centered practice means integrating research proven effective techniques into instruction and constantly reflecting on how they work with your learners’ profiles in order to provide students with optimal growth as mathematicians.  Chapin, O’Conner, and Anderson (2013) share “math talk moves” which are conversational prompts that can be used to promote productive math discourse.  I have found these strategies to be incredibly engaging for the 1st grade mathematicians I work with as we have whole group lessons.  For example, today while doing “Number Corner” with students, I used the following math talk moves: wait time; “so you are saying…”; and “who can add-on?”.  One student needed to articulate an equation 3 times to represent the total days in school before it was clear to himself and the rest of the community.  By modeling patience as we waited for this student to arrive at the solution they were seeking, other students felt comfortable with sharing their thinking, even if they weren’t sure they were correct.  In addition, a student had a misconception that was based on a confusion between the 10’s and the 100’s place.  When I mirrored back to him what he had said, offering a different angle on the problem, he was able to see his misconception.  I congratulated him for helping the class learn about a common confusion that many 1st grade mathematicians share.  Finally, as student excitement grows around the monthly data collection (unifix cubes), the students piggyback on one another’s observations as we have discussions.  I encourage this productive collaboration by asking, “who can say more?”  As I begin to integrate math talk moves into whole group instruction,  I observe our math community being more comfortable with exploring math concepts they don’t fully understand.  In other words, they seem to enjoy and trust the process of engaging in math discourse to develop understanding.  And in turn, I am learning to trust the process of trying on new effective instructional strategies, i.e. math talk moves, until they feel comfortable.  Children gain math reasoning skills through the process of math talk with their learning community that will serve them throughout their lives. Furthermore, effective math talk supports student understanding that point participating in their math community is not to know the correct answer, but to participate in a community process of understanding math concepts.  In the future, I plan to use more think-pair-share math talk with the class.  I do think-pair-share often in other lessons, but haven’t integrated it much into whole group math lessons.  Overall, I believe these research-based strategies for facilitating a culture of math discourse will be highly beneficial to my growth as a teacher, and children’s self efficacy as mathematicians.


Chapin, S. H. , O’Connor. C., & Anderson, N. C. (2013). Classroom discussions in math: A teacher’s guide for using talk moves to support the common core and more (3rd ed.). Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications.

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