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Mathematics Discourse in Secondary Classrooms


Guiding Literature


Chapin, S. H., O’Connor, C. & Anderson, N. C. (2009). Classroom discussions: Using math talk to help students learn (2nd Ed.). Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications.

In Classroom Discussions, the authors explore ways for teachers to get students involved in mathematical discourse. Specifically, five talk moves -- using wait time, revoicing, asking students to restate someone’s reasoning, prompting for further participation, and asking students to apply their own reasoning to someone else’s reasoning -- are described. Our work builds upon ways that these five moves can enable teachers to facilitate powerful and purposeful discourse in their classrooms.


Wagner, D., & Herbel-Eisenmann, B. (2009). Re-mythologizing mathematics through attention to classroom positioning. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 72(1), 1-15.

One of the primary foci of the MDISC professional development materials is the way in which students are positioned as learners and doers of mathematics. This positioning is negotiated and influenced in several ways by the classroom discourse, as this article argues.

Gibbons, P. (2009). English learners, academic literacy and thinking. Portsmouth: Heinemann.

In English Learners, Academic Literacy, and Thinking the development of academic literacy for all students, including English language learners, is posited through challenging high-level tasks and scaffolding of language through the mode continuum. We consider the concept of the mode continuum -- varieties of language from spoken to written, from less formal to more formal, and from more context-dependent to less context-dependent -- to be one of the central ideas of this project.

Schleppegrell, M. J. (2007). The linguistic challenges of mathematics teaching and learning: A research review. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 23, 139-159.

In this article, the author shows that language is an important tool for learning and constructing mathematics. Students need to be able to engage in mathematical discussions and use mathematical language in order to construct knowledge and develop a mathematical register. Our constellations believe that being able to foster mathematical discussions that push the content and the register is vital to student understanding.

Steele, M. (2008). Building bridges: Cases as catalysts for the integration of mathematical and pedagogical knowledge. In M. S. Smith & S. N. Friel (Eds.), Cases in mathematics teacher education: Tools for developing knowledge needed for teaching (pp. 57-72). San Diego, CA: Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators.

Building Bridges examines how teachers can learn from analyzing cases of classroom practice. By solving and discussing a mathematical task and then interacting with a case, teachers can bring together their mathematical, pedagogical, and pedagogical content knowledge. The idea of using constellations based around a challenging mathematical task has structured the way in which the MDISC materials are designed. Additionally, cases become a way for teachers to interact with a classroom scenario that is not set out as an ideal lesson to be emulated, but instead an instance that can become an opportunity for thought and learning.