Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Part C

Defining Communication
  Introduction | Mathematical Communication in Young Children | Additional Strategies | The Teacher's Role | Summary | Your Journal
"Teachers can create and structure mathematically rich environments for students in a number of ways. They should present problems that challenge students mathematically, but they should also let students know they believe that the students can solve them. They should expect students to explain their thinking and should give students many opportunities to talk with, and listen to, their peers."

(NCTM, 2000, p. 130)


Communication is a way for students to articulate, clarify, organize, and consolidate their thinking. Mathematics lessons should capitalize on the innate motivation of young children to make sense of their world. Opportunities to communicate about mathematics through words, gestures, pictures, objects, and symbols should be an integral part of building a rich mathematical program in the early grades.

Students should be given opportunities to explore mathematical ideas with partners and in small groups. They should explain their thinking to one anther and to the teacher using various forms of communication. The habits of listening to and striving to understand the ideas of others should be developed throughout the early grades.

As teachers of young students, we must also learn to listen to students' ideas in order to get information about their understanding of the mathematics and to determine what questions to ask to help them clarify their misconceptions or to follow through on their correct or promising ideas. Communicating one's thinking should be a part of every mathematics activity for young children.

In this section, we will look at various forms of student communication, and how mathematical language develops in pre-K through grade 2. We will also look at the teacher's role in helping to promote children's communication.

Next  Defining communication strategies

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