Series: Hear from the Experts

Discussions that Advance Mathematical Learning with Diane Briars

Discussions that Advance Mathematical Learning with Diane Briars

Summing up the point of the day’s lesson with the whole class is an extremely important, yet often neglected part of any math lesson. Diane Briars provides some suggestions on leading these concluding discussions.

The actual learning by the whole class comes when we have the discussion at the end.

Lessons need to be planned to allow time for a recap at the end of the class period. All too often, teachers let student work time roll on until the end of the class, leaving no time to make concluding points or resolve unanswered questions.

Teachers also need to make sure to be intentional with how they go about leading the discussion. “The fatal question,” says Briars, is to ask a random student to share their solution method. This takes control away from the teacher and can bring out ideas that could potentially impede the whole class discussion.

Briars illustrates the practices from Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions. An important idea from this approach is that teachers should actively prepare for the concluding discussion before the lesson ends. While students are working, teachers should anticipate problems and monitor student progress. This way, the students’ ideas can be directly connected to the main points of the lesson.

Diane Briars is the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), an organization made up of over 80,000 members, whose goal is to ensure that students receive mathematics education of the highest quality. Before her tenure at NCTM, Briars researched for the Intensified Algebra Project, served as mathematics director for Pittsburgh Public Schools, and taught as a secondary mathematics teacher.

This presentation took place on August 11, 2015, as a part of the Summer P12 Mathematics Institute, an event put on by Chicago Public Schools, DePaul University, and Erikson Institute. The purpose of the event was to build and expand capacity to provide high quality mathematics instruction in alignment with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) in networks, schools, and classrooms.