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Model Schools Spotlight - May 2017

Each year, a team of Monticello staff members attends the Model Schools Conference, where they are immersed in opportunities to learn about innovative, out-of-the-box strategies that are transforming education and student success nationwide. This year, we asked each attendee from our district to bring some of that knowledge back to Monticello. Each month, the Navigator will feature a “spotlight” story highlighting new ways to engage our students and prepare them to be life-ready students. Our May spotlight is courtesy of RJK Special Education Teacher, JoAnn Kelleher

Math Talks

Last June, I had the extraordinary opportunity to attend the Model Schools Conference. The conference allowed participants to delve into many educational topics and provided opportunites for educational discussions that are sometimes difficult to have due to time constraints during the regular school day.
The “Math Talks” session caught my eye, and I attended the session. When I returned to school in September, I began implementing these “math talk” sessions during small group activities and eventually during whole group lessons.

What are “Math Talks”?
• Math Talks are short conversations that allow students to explain their thinking and reasoning behind solving a math problem.
• Math Talks help develop students’ flexibility with numbers and computational skills.
• Math Talks allow instructors to understand how a student thinks and reasons, and is a quick way to catch any misconceptions and correct them immediately.
• Math Talks allow students to hear how other students think and reason, and learn from each other. There have been many times over the course of the year, after a student explains their thinking, another student will have a “lightbulb moment”. You can see that they totally understand.
• Math Talks allow students to explain their reasoning and thinking. It is challenging for students to put their thoughts into words to explain steps. As time goes on, students become more comfortable, and they are better able to explain their reasoning. Throughout the year, as the students’confidence grew doing Math Talks, I have seen students’ become more self-assured and be able to explains their thoughts and opinions in a more clear consise manner across the subject areas.


Below are two short videos demonstrating “Math Talks” in Mrs. Dillon and my classroom.

Math Talks Video 1
Math Talks Video 2  


For further information, please feel free to contact me.

JoAnn Kelleher
Special Education Teacher
RJK Middle School