Exploring and Supporting Children's Math Talk

by Kahn, Leslie Heinz.

Abstract (Summary)
This teacher research study examines the math talk of students in an after school Math Club with a focus on geometry. The first research question addresses the processes the students use to facilitate their talk about mathematics, while the second research question explores the classroom environment and the contextual factors that influence the students’ math talk. This qualitative case study describes students’ math talk in whole group discussions and within small groups over a period of five months. Ethnographic methods were used in data collection and analysis of audio and video recordings, transcripts, student artifacts, observational field notes and teacher journal entries. This study took place in a small urban school in the Southwest with twenty students from fourth and fifth grades. The population of the club included 17 Hispanic students, one African American student and two Native American students. Drawing from sociocultural theory, the findings of the study suggest that math talk occurs within a community of practice. The analysis focuses on math talk through the students’ use of multiple processes as they communicate with their peers. These processes include visual cues, connecting language to mathematical concepts, opening space for peer understandings through invitations and negotiating multiple interpretations. The analysis also suggests contextual factors in the classroom environment that influence math talk. In examining three sets of sessions with different mathematical tasks, five factors were identified; characteristics of the mathematical tasks, the routines of the club, the space for the whole child, the role of the teacher and the students’ engagement with the mathematical task. 12 The implications indicate that the role of the teacher shifts to creating participation structures to establish the mathematical context that supports math talk, developing an understanding of the ways in which mathematical tasks work, and demonstrating ways of using recording devices. Teacher research provided the perspective from which I explored the students’ interactions within the context of the Math Club, and provides the frame through which I reflect and share my understandings with others. 13
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Arizona

School Location:USA - Arizona

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:

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