Oracy in Maths


Alongside Heather, I delivered a session on Oracy (using talk in a dialogic classroom to aid learning) in Maths and Science. Visitors can often easily see how to embed talk into traditionally “softer” subjects, but what happens when “there is just a right way to do things”?

Ways to use talk in the maths classroom:

  1. Through games
  2. Through physical structures
  3. Through talk structures
  4. Through rich tasks

Through games, such as skribble, just a minute, pictionary, articulate, taboo. Often the most common and easy way to introduce talk. One example I am currently enjoying is “Which one doesn’t belong?” , a quick and easy way to spark debate. Easily adaptable to the current topic.

Through physical structures in your classroom. I am a bit obsessed with my whiteboards, which are useful because:

  • Everyone can see all the work
  • Knowledge spreads quickly across the room
  • The non-permanence means there is less fear of starting
  • Formative assessment is easy, teacher can survey from centre
  • Students are naturally encouraged to talk to each other

More thoughts in a blog here, and example of whiteboards in my classroom below:

Through problem-solving structures. These could be sentence stems, group roles, timed protocols, toolkits… One example, devised by Rachael, is an adaptation of the coaching model.

  1. Work on the problem for 5 minutes in silence
  2. Coachee talks for 3 minutes (with talk prompts and key vocab visible for support) about what they have done
  3. Coach responds for 2 minutes, with further questions and clarifications.

Finally, and most importantly, through rich tasks! This might be a cop-out on my part, but if:

  1. The students desperately want to solve the problem
  2. Any individual student is unable to solve the problem alone

Then talk will arise naturally as the easiest way of communicating ideas quickly and efficiently between thinkers. Our job as teachers is to facilitate this, with a few well-placed structures. Talk for the sake of talk is banished.

Some places I go for rich tasks:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s