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ERIC Number: EJ925281
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-May
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 7
ISSN: ISSN-1073-5836
3 Strategies for Promoting Math Disagreements
Barlow, Angela T.; McCrory, Michael R.
Teaching Children Mathematics, v17 n9 p530-539 May 2011
As elementary school students attempt to understand mathematical concepts, engaging in the processes of reasoning and sense making is important. To do so, students should be expected to listen to and challenge their classmates' ideas. Disagreements provide students with the impetus to think deeply about mathematics in an effort to make sense of a situation. The discourse that surrounds the disagreement allows students to organize their thoughts, formulate arguments, consider other students' positions, and communicate their positions to their classmates. As differing opinions surface during classroom discussions, teachers receive valuable insights that help them understand children's difficulties with what might otherwise seem like straightforward math. Additionally, as students begin debating mathematical ideas, teachers have occasion to expand students' mathematical thinking. Recognizing that mathematical disagreements among students engage them in the processes of reasoning and sense making, teachers are often willing to be reactive in the sense that if a disagreement occurs, they will allow it to develop and will encourage the discourse that surrounds it. This article describes three instructional strategies that create opportunities for students to engage in mathematical disagreements in the classroom, as well as sample tasks or scenarios and student artifacts to support the reader's understanding of each strategy. Additionally, the authors describe characteristics of issues that lead to disagreements. (Contains 7 figures.)
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A