I love it when my students can help each other learn, especially solving math problems. Students can benefit from learning other ways to solve. I am more of a facilitator than a teacher. But sometimes not everyone participates. I have done the following several times and it seems to work well so far.

1. I have everyone gather together first and explain the problem and clarify any questions. Here is the problem I proposed to my 2-3rd grade math students.

2. I divide the class into groups of 4. And give each group a large piece of paper along with pencils, crayons, etc. Each group needs to divide the paper up into four sections. One for each member of the group.

3. First they have about 3 minutes (depending on the problem) to use their paper section to figure out an answer. (There are four different answers below).

4. After everyone has figured out an answer, they rotate around the paper (silently), then they return to their original spot. (1 minute)

5. Each person takes turns explaining their section of the paper, with others asking questions. (3-5 minutes)

6. Then they have to compare and contrast. So again going around the circle and noticing one thing they did in common with someone else, and one thing that someone did different. (3-5 minutes) Then choose one or two different examples and be prepared to share with the class.

7. Gather everyone back. Ask groups to share how they figured it out, but if one group did the same as your group, be ready to share another strategy. Document each strategy.

Optional: Have groups synthesize their strategies and present to the other groups.

Tips: I do time each section so they tend to be more focused.

I hope you learned some ways to improve your math talks in your class and I find them very valuable! Here are some task cards that provide questions similar to the example above.

Thanks for reading!

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