What I’m Reading…Intentional Talk

“When we press beyond procedural explanations into explanations that include reasoning, we are supporting students in justifying their ideas.” Intentional Talk (Kazemi/Hintz)

When you are planning instruction, how often do you consider the sound of your mathematics instruction and the conversations you want your students to engage in?  If you answered not often, then Intentional Talk by Elham Kazemi and Allison Hintz might radically change the way you plan.

Math is no longer a spectator sport.  We know that to truly develop mathematical thinking, students need to be active participants–they should be doing math and talking about math.  This dramatically changes the role of both student and teacher. The teacher becomes a facilitator, rather than a giver of knowledge, while students drive the work and the conversations.  Intentional Talk provides a road-map for that change.

If you have tried incorporating accountable talk in your classroom, then you know it is easier said than done.  To focus your efforts, the authors outline four guiding principles of classroom discussions in the Introduction and differentiate between Open Strategy Sharing and five targeted structures, each with its own goal and talk moves.

  • Compare and Connect
  • Why? Let’s Justify
  • What’s Best and Why?
  • Define and Clarify
  • Troubleshoot and Revise
Also included in the Introduction is a classroom example of a teacher using Open Strategy Sharing and two targeted follow-up structures with her class.  Following the Introduction, each type of talk structure receives its own chapter.
The chapters are thoughtfully organized to provide all the tools you need to implement each structure.   Each chapter contains information about the strategy; planning considerations, including completed planning templates (the Appendix contains blank templates); and both primary and intermediate vignettes.  The vignettes are the true power of the book, because you feel as if you are actually in the classroom observing a master teacher at work. References to research and the CCSS Mathematical Practices are sprinkled throughout the book, but do not distract or become tedious.
This is a book you will use as well as read.  You can’t read a chapter and not have a new strategy to try in the classroom tomorrow!

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  1. Thanks for this suggestion! I’ve been working awhile on ratio and “economy of language” – less teach-talk, more student-talk. Now that I’ve got a better ratio, I’m ready to increase the intentional talk. This book looks terrific! Thanks again, Jen

    1. I love that you are looking at it from a ratio perspective, Jen! We’re always told to set goals that are measurable, and you nailed it. You’ll love the book! 🙂

  2. Hi, Donna,
    I am very interested in purchasing this book and reading it, too, but have you also read “Making Number Talks Matter”? I can buy both to study, but I was wondering if you had opinions between the two. Thanks!

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