Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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CommunicationSession 02 OverviewTab atab btab ctab dtab eReference
Part A

Observing Student Communication
  Introduction | Hidden Pattern Blocks | Describing a Hexagon | Problem Reflection #1 | Classroom Practice | Problem Reflection #2 | Observe a Classroom | Your Journal
"Communication makes mathematical thinking observable and therefore facilitates further development of that thought. It encourages students to reflect on their own knowledge and their own ways of solving problems. Throughout the early years students should have daily opportunities to talk and write about mathematics. They should become increasingly effective in communicating what they understand through their own notation and language as well as in conventional ways. "

(NCTM, 2000, p. 128)


As we study the Communication Standard, we will consider several aspects of communication in learning and teaching mathematics. It is important to understand that young children enter school with a wealth of informal mathematical knowledge based on their everyday experiences. They are natural learners who construct their own understanding about quantity and relationships. They use their own language and symbols to express their thinking.

In this session, we will look at various forms of mathematical communication in early childhood. We will consider the importance of students listening to and observing one another in the classroom. We will reflect on the teacher's role in helping young students express themselves clearly and use their own experiences to develop more formal mathematical ideas.

We begin this session by looking at Hidden Pattern Blocks, an activity that emphasizes the development of oral language for students in the early grades. Before beginning the actual activity, students have time to explore the pattern block pieces (the manipulative used in this activity) with a partner. This gives students the opportunity to "play" with the materials. After the students have spent some time exploring the pattern block shapes, the teacher explains the activity, which requires students to describe the shapes to their classmates. As you consider the following student work, think about the importance of communication skills as the students begin to understand the different characteristics of the pattern block shapes.

Next  Observe student work

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