Conferring in the Math Classroom: A Practical Guidebook

Conferring in the Math Classroom: A Functional Guidebook to Using 5-Minute Conferences to Grow Confident Mathematicians 
By Gina Picha
(Stenhouse Publishers, 2022 – Learn a lot more)

Reviewed by Kathleen Palmieri

In Conferring in the Math Classroom Gina Picha has composed a reserve that will assistance instructors in the intermediate grades think about the rewards of conferencing with math college students and set the tips into exercise.

A great deal like a looking through meeting, math conferences are brief conversations that help us as academics “understand our students’ contemplating and offer options to notice our college students as they have interaction in mathematics.” (pg. 4)

Picha writes about distinct kinds of math conferences, but presents three important factors in any math dialogue: listening and observing, naming students’ strengths, and encouraging learners to share their ideas.

Math vs. literacy conferences

The author discusses the similarities and variances in between math and literacy conferences in chapter two in which she shares an working experience of observing an additional instructor, Deb, deliver a producing mini-lesson on descriptive language and then listening in as the trainer has a convention with a university student about his producing.

The talent with which the trainer questioned queries, the encouragement she supplied, as properly as the technique of likely back again and rereading the composing and sharing the anchor chart again, stuck with Picha.

“Many of the teaching moves Deb used in her producing convention also assistance mathematicians. Both writing and math conferences contain deep listening and observation do the job. They also share the exact overarching aims of supporting students’ extended-term development and supporting learners to establish a appreciate and appreciation for the craft of crafting and arithmetic.” (pg. 16)

The book’s table “Comparing Writing and Mathematics Conferences” assists to illustrate the variances among writers and mathematicians. Most notably:

  • When operating with writers a trainer could stimulate the use of a mentor textual content for a college student to research and imitate a creating model.
  • In performing with math students the trainer could possibly really encourage them to collaborate with friends to share different methods in trouble solving. (pg. 17).

The shared similarity of the two is that lecturers search for strengths that can aid to generate a training stage for that student.

Maximizing math conferences

In chapter a few Picha shares her two goals for successful conferencing and the types of math conferences she recommends.

The goals are “Understanding students’ requirements and interactions” and “Nudging college students toward further mathematical comprehension and improved engagement within just the math group.” (pg. 23) She supplies reliable examples of math conferences which aid to demonstrate what is noticed, what is seen, style of reaction and the explanation for that reaction.

Picha shares two meeting buildings. Performing inside the task works by using the conference to “Notice and fully grasp, uncover college student pondering, identify and fortify, and invite sharing.” She also examines the parts of conferring Further than the job which differs in that the teacher will “Nudge contemplating beyond the task” and “Invite conjecture and sharing.”

“Mathematical Conjunctures” is a time period that Picha takes advantage of to describe students’ “mathematical hypothes(es) that they think to be real but have not nevertheless established. Typically conjunctures establish from the styles that pupils notice with a problem or throughout issues.” (pg. 32) In simple terms, these are students’ concepts that can assist deliver additional dialogue, building a setting up stage for new discoveries.

The use of questioning

Chapters 4 and five delve into the use of questioning and offer a glimpse into Picha’s previous fifth grade classroom.

Presenting much more illustrations of pupils in motion, Picha discusses the questioning system of “Funneling,” which is to use a set of thoughts to support lead the pupils to the suitable remedy, supplying confined interest to university student ideas that are heading in the improper route.

She includes the intended and unintended results of “Asking Thoughts that Funnel Pupil Considering.” She also provides a “Questioning Help Doc for Math Conferences” and gives the elements of the two sorts of questioning as properly as examples.

Asset-Based mostly Conferring

Aspect three of this e book discusses “Asset-Based mostly Conferring” this sort of as conferring from students’ strengths, noticing and responding to students’ errors, and addressing people errors all through the convention. Her table of “Strengths to Title and Reinforce” is damaged into six sections: collaboration, group, representations, generalizations, resourceful options, and tendencies. Picha describes examining college student do the job samples to locate strengths as effectively as to help foster a optimistic math identification.

In addition, she delivers guidance in working “Beyond the Task” and nudging college student wondering using inquiries and sentence starters. She also will take a deeper dive into “conjunctures” and how to invite learners to make conjunctures, featuring “Examples of Scholar-Made Conjunctures.” (page 84).

Planning the Course to Confer

Aspect four provides organizing for accomplishment, asking the dilemma, “What should you contemplate prior to conferring?” Talked about within just chapter 8 is the worth of “Building a Math Community that Fosters Favourable Math Identities.” Rounding out this component is chapter 9, “Planning for Info Collection and Analysis,” and chapter ten, “Planning for the Challenging Components.”

The tricky components incorporate the “I function alone” and the “I’m done” which is when early finishers complete a activity just before the teacher is accomplished conferring. Picha features some tips of approaches to increase the students’ math pondering, these as an anchor chart that offers math tips that assist examine in with college students.

Lastly, Picha consists of a few appendices with source charts: “If/Then Charts,” “Conferring Situation Cards” for grades K-5, and “Conferring Notes Template.”

Conferring in the Math Classroom delivers plentiful suggestions, illustrations, and resources to maintain math conferences making use of the a few critical aspects: listening and observing, naming students’ strengths, and encouraging pupils to share their tips. This is a functional resource with sound thoughts that can be effortlessly implemented to develop the behavior of conferring in the math classroom in strategies that advance scholar good results.


 Kathleen Palmieri is a Countrywide Board Qualified Instructor and NBCT Skilled Mastering facilitator. She is a fifth quality educator in upstate New York who opinions and writes frequently for MiddleWeb. With a passion for literacy and learning in the classroom, she participates in a variety of crafting workshops, curriculum crafting endeavors, and math displays. As a lifelong learner, she is an avid reader and researcher of instructional procedures and methods. Collaborating with colleagues and globally on Twitter @Kathie_Palmieri and growing her schooling adventures at are ongoing procedures.


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