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Topic: Promoting Discourse
Replies: 1   Last Post: Mar 9, 1995 2:54 PM

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Bill Richards

Posts: 25
Registered: 12/6/04
Promoting Discourse
Posted: Mar 7, 1995 4:34 PM
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Fellow subscribers:

The 1991 NCTM document, Professional Standards for Teaching
Mathematics, devotes a significant amount of space to "discourse"
as a means of furthering student understanding of mathematics. In
fact, three of the six "Standards for Teaching" address discourse:

Standard Two: The Teacher's Role in Discourse
"The teacher has a central role in orchestrating the
written and oral discourse in ways that contribute to
students' understanding." p. 35

Standard Three: The Students' Role in Discourse
"Students should engage in making conjectures, proposing
approaches and solutions to problems, and arguing about
the validity of particular claims. They should learn to
verify, revise, and discard claims on the basis of
mathematical evidence and use a variety of mathematical
tools." p. 45

Standard Four: Tools for Enhancing Discourse
"Teachers must value and encourage the use of a variety
of tools rather than placing excessive emphasis on
conventional mathematical symbols." p. 52

An upcoming program in our television series for math and science
teachers will focus on the topic of "Promoting Discourse," and we
are hoping to include some input from educators who take part in
discussion here on the NCTM-L listserv. We would love to hear from
teachers who are familiar with the NCTM's Professional Standards,
and who are actively striving to create the kind of discourse that
this document advocates.

Here are some questions that we have on this topic, that we hope
you have a few minutes to reply to.

1) What percent of the time does extended discourse occur in your

2) How much of this is discourse that occurs as a result of your
explicit planning (rather than the kind of unplanned
digression/opportunity for discussion that good teachers have
taken advantage of in their classrooms for years)?

3) If you ARE actually planning discourse, how do you do that?

We would like very much to be able to pass on your experience in
this area to other teachers who may be struggling with how to
implement this key element of the sort of teaching that the NCTM
advocates. We hope to include a sampling of quotes from the
replies we receive within our upcoming program.

If you can take the time to provide us with some input, please
also include in your reply explicit permission for Michigan
Gateways to include your comments within our television program
and the printed materials that support it.

Here is some formal language you can use, if you wish:
I, <name> grant Michigan Gateways permission to use all or
part of my electronic mail message dated <date>, with the
subject line <subject>, as well as my name and e-mail address,
in video and print materials related to the Michigan Gateways
television series.

If you copy your replies to the list, please remember the courtesy
of deleting the bulk of this original message -- it is a long

Thank you,

Bill Richards

The Television Program for Teachers of Mathematics and Science
212 Communication Arts Bldg ! ph: 517 355-2300 ext 422
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212 ! fx: 517 353-7124

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