Toolkit for change agents

Entry routes

HomeChallenges and barriersStrategic ToolsImplementation ToolsSearch

Challenge Our teachers need support in engaging students in mathematical discussions


Learning to communicate mathematically is at the heart of deepening understanding in mathematics for teachers and students, but teachers find it difficult to engage students in meaningful mathematical discussions. It requires specific teaching strategies to:
  • select and use substantial problems worthy of discussion,
  • facilitate rather than dominate discussions,
  • orchestrate discussions where students actively pose questions to clarify their own thinking or that of their peers
  • address misconceptions
  • make decisions on what ideas to pursue orally or in writing.

Posing �good� questions, probing reasoning, and listening carefully to other�s thinking, are new challenges for many teachers and their students. To achieve this, teachers must create an environment where students learn to respectfully agree or disagree and challenge ideas that are presented by others in their learning community.


The following strategies have been found effective, separately or in combination. They offer leaders a set of tools, including videotape, that features classrooms where mathematical discourse is an integral part of teaching and learning.