Discourse, of Course: Encouraging Genuine Mathematical Conversations

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  • 1 Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
  • 2 Hastings Middle School, Hastings, MI 49058

Discourse is one area of the nctm's professional teaching standards for School Mathematics (1991) that causes many teachers particular difficulty. Mathematics teachers have a long history as lecturers. Although “initiation-reply-evaluation” (Richards 1991) sequences between the teacher and students are not uncommon, genuine mathematical conversations are rare in most classrooms (Weiss 1994). Discourse can be a problem area for teachers when they do not realize how important it is and have not seen or experienced dynamic classroom discourse. Once a teacher has seen students defending their mathematical ideas, questioning other students' ideas, and helping clarify the mathematics to one another, the importance of discourse becomes clear.


Laura Van Zoest is interested in assisting and studying tile process that teachers undergo wizen they change their classroom practice to meet calls for reform.

Ann Enyart is interested in team teaching, flex-block scheduling, integrating mathematics with other subject areas, and students' cognitive processes.

Contributor Notes

(Corresponding author is laura.vanzoest@wmiclt.edu)(Corresponding author is mth_enyart@wmich.edu)
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School


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