Because I’m hyper-interested in helping to create a space where kids feel comfortable sharing ideas and making mistakes, I began my classes today with the Talking Points activity that Elizabeth Statmore (@cheesemonkeysf) shared at Twitter Math Camp this past summer. Learning that a tight rule of No Comment was a cornerstone of the activity intrigued me to try it in my classroom. Productive conversations in math class don’t happen automatically very often. I’m hoping that using this process helps students to use exploratory talk around mathematics.
The No Comment was difficult for students, but I realized quickly, it was difficult for me as well. For example, when debriefing with the whole class, I was tempted to comment…after each group presented. I had to tell myself each time a group gave a summary that there wasn’t a need for my comment. I was tempted to clarify thinking or give a follow up explanation. I needed to let the groups own their experience.
This realization made me cognizant of the other times a comment by me is unnecessary following a student response. How many times have I insisted on having the last word in the class? How many times have I summarized a student’s thinking for him or her? Hopefully, as students move toward being more exploratory with their discussions, I can move toward being less dominant in the conversation.