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A tool for planning and orchestrating mathematical discussions

Conference contribution
Authors Rimma Nyman
Cecilia Kilhamn
Florenda Gallos Cronberg
Lena Knutsson
Christina Skodras
Susanne Frisk
Britt Holmberg
Published in Proceedings of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education
ISSN 0771-100X
Publisher PME
Place of publication Umeå
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Language en
Keywords mathematical discussion, framework, talk moves
Subject categories Educational Sciences


Orchestrating a mathematical discussion is an important skill for teachers to develop, since mathematical discussions make up powerful classrooms (Schoenfeldt, 2014). However, that skill is neither innate nor easy to convey to pre-service teachers. This poster reports on the development of a communication competence framework based on research that stresses the importance of mathematical discussions (e.g. Franke, Kazemii & Battey, 2007, Kazemii & Hintz, 2014). The aim was to create a useful tool for planning, conducting and analysing mathematical whole class discussions. Using a lesson study approach, a framework was developed and included as a course element in four different mathematics education courses for pre-service teachers. It was tested and revised through an iterative process, using video observations of lectures and workshop activities, as well as written reflections and examination tasks. Our study resulted in a framework describing the interplay between two main aspects of mathematical discussions: mathematical objectives and talk moves, as follows: First, the planning of a whole class discussion starts with a focus on the mathematical objective (strategy sharing, focussing, comparing, justifying). Then, pupils’ strategies and questions are anticipated and the teacher orchestrates a discussion making use of specific talk moves. Finally, the mathematical objectives are revisited when analysing the discussion and assessing what learning has occurred. A significant breakthrough in the development of the framework was when we made a clear distinction between moves to initiate student actions (think quietly, talk in pairs, describe, reason, repeat, add on, revise), and moves indicating teacher actions where new mathematical input is added (revoice, challenge, question). The final version of the framework proved much appreciated by the students in helping them to conceptualise and decompose mathematical discussions. The framework contributes to teacher education by making pre-service teachers aware of basic components of a mathematical discussion.

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