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


Now that you have watched students work on this activity and observed how the teacher guides their communication, think about the following questions. Once you've formulated your own answers, select "Show Answer" to see our sample responses.

1. Why is it important to give students time to explore materials before beginning a formal activity?

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Sample Answer:
This is important for both the students and the teacher. For students, this time gives them an opportunity to become familiar with the materials. It encourages collaborative thinking and talking about the materials as students move them around, see how they fit together, and so on. For the teacher, this exploratory time offers a chance to collect important information about students' background knowledge and familiarity with the concepts, for example, by observing students' actions and listening to their conversations during this phase of the lesson.

From a practical perspective, if students are not given time to explore and "play" with the materials, they will do so during the activity. This is true of students at all ages!


2. What forms of communication are present in the Hidden Pattern Blocks activity?

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Sample Answer:
Students talk about the pieces they feel in the bag. They refine their descriptions based on the drawings of their classmates. There is both oral and written communication and a collaborative use of these methods of communication to describe the shape. The teacher adds to the students' knowledge base by offering and/or reinforcing the correct name of each shape.

3. What did you notice about the language students used to describe the hidden pattern blocks? How did Ms. Christiansen guide these descriptions?

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Sample Answer:
Students used their own language, such as "squarish." The teacher's questions helped them focus on specific characteristics of a piece, such as the number of sides or the number of corners. The teacher built on students' descriptive names, such as "half a hexagon," to help students see relationships between the pieces and learn the correct vocabulary at the same time.

4. How does young students' use of language (formal and informal) help them formulate and understand mathematical ideas as well as learn the correct mathematical vocabulary?

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Sample Answer:
Children describe their ideas and observations using their own words. Although our goal is to help students eventually learn and use the appropriate mathematics vocabulary, our focus at this level is to help students recognize the characteristics of the shapes and make sense of how the shapes are similar and how they are different. Once students are able to do that with their own language, they are ready to translate their ideas into the language of mathematics.

Next  Observe a classroom

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