Maths is a connected subject, but some students think of it as disconnected and isolated from other subjects. Such students who believe that maths is a set of formulas that have to be remembered is associated mainly with low achievement.
We use talk moves all the time in class. It allows us to communicate about the topic that we are learning. Since I have started using talk moves, I have noticed that my students are making more meaning of this subject and are becoming enthusiastically engaged in their learning of Maths.
Today I gave simple multiplicative problems to my students. They had to solve the problems mentally and also explain how they had come to a conclusion. I noticed that some of the students could work out the correct answer but were not able to explain their thinking. One of the girls is very new to New Zealand and can speak only Samoan. There were others who felt intimidated and not so confident sharing their ideas in a large group.
I wanted to honour these students who had solved the problem but were not able to explain their thinking. So I gave them time to think about mathematics. I put them into groups and gave them an opportunity to think and talk about what worked and what went wrong.
Students felt more comfortable in smaller groups and they could find a way to connect or ask questions about the parts that may be confusing or difficult to follow.
During sharing time, almost all students in this group could contribute a little to explain their working. I was elated to see that each student who never contributed could gather courage to say something little. Though they were not very explicit but I think it was a huge effort on their part.
Yes! I thought, 'Little steps at a time can make a difference'.