Book Cover of Intentional Talk: How to Structure and Lead Productive Mathematical Discussion
Intentional Talk: How To Structure And Lead Productive Mathematical Discussions
Elham Kazemi and Allison Hint. Stenhouse Publishers, 2014, 168 pages, $25.95
Reviewed by Faye Socholotiuk

You know you should be having discussions about the math your students have just worked on diligently for the past half hour, but you’re not sure what those conversations should look or sound like. Should it be a show-and-tell where each group or individual gets to share his or her work? Should it be a selection of three sample ideas that touch on some of the salient points students should remember? If you are wondering how to lead math discussions in ways that are meaningful for your students and allow them to build their knowledge and understanding of math concepts, this book is for you.

The book is organized in an incredibly user-friendly style with each chapter exploring a different targeted discussion strategy: Compare and Connect; Why? Let’s Justify; What’s Best and Why?; Define and Clarify; Troubleshoot and Revise. The beginning of each chapter outlines when you use that particular focus and then walks you through how to plan for it. Templates for teachers to use in their own classrooms are included in an appendix. Each chapter provides at least two classroom vignettes along with sample templates filled in for each discussion. The vignettes are very detailed and paint a thorough yet succinct picture of the conversation happening in the math class, even highlighting some of the key teacher moves occurring throughout the discussion. The summary included at the end of each chapter provides more guidance on the types of lessons or mathematical ideas that might lend themselves to each of the targeted discussion strategies.

I have used some of the targeted discussion strategies in classes from grades 1 to 6 and can attest to the way they help students talk through the concepts and build their own understanding. You will find the book easy to follow and the implementation of any of the targeted discussion strategies will bring a renewed purpose to the math talk in your classroom.

Faye Socholotiuk is a member of the Hamilton-Wentworth Teacher Local.


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