Productive conversations don’t just happen; conversations do. Let’s turn the natural into “super” natural(-ly productive, that is!)

“Conversations about learning take time” Evan Weinberg

Evan, I think you may have revealed the heart of why teachers

balk at moving from lecture, “I-we-you, and other lessons structures that teach algorithms and tricks: leading students through this process of mathematical discussion feels very out of control, it’s hard to listen to our students struggle, and it takes patience and time.
Read Evan’s full post.

Our school is moving to block, A-B next year. We have teachers who have calculated the actual minutes we will lose in class time, and are stressing about covering every standard and not having time to teach the lessons. Then we have those (like me) who think about the ability to get to those productive conversations and activities now that classes are longer; to be able to work in connecting ideas without interruption, and to use the resulting 2 day (before they see us again) “wait time” that has been shown to be beneficial for retention of material longer term and better recall of material overall.

I have been including student conversation in my classes since day one. They have to be led into productive talk, but once they get the hang of it, it gets better. I am reading Intentional Talk so that I can get better at leading the specific types of conversations (I hadn’t realized that there were “types”of conversations) and producing specific successful math conversations as a result. I also recognized that I was causing less productive conversations by not recognizing and facilitating the purpose of the conversation.

It takes confidence, and practice, to facilitate this productive conversation. One of the best ways I can think of to “practice” would be in curriculum or PD meetings. The meeting leader could deliberately foster this type of conversation, and give/get feedback about how the conversation feels, what supported the conversation, what derailed it, and about any feelings of out-of-control-ness. I would also like to see support of the conversation with information about the effectiveness of these conversations, both for our meetings, as well as for our students! My kids are so much happier when they truly understand the material than when they are trying to memorize the lesson.

join the discussion: @KennyGrassroots: Awesome #math book club on Twitter this summer, #teacherfriends. Follow #intenttalk & join the discussion. @ekazemi

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