Using talk wasn’t really a big thing when I went to school. When I was learning Maths at Primary school I never really understood what I was doing. Why was this? I believe that this is linked to the way the lessons were set up. When I was at school we used to get out our Maths text books (where everyone was on a different page and some were even on a different textbook) and work our way through.
Consequently, we were never actually taught Maths. If you were good at problem solving and had an idea what to do then you could access the learning. If you didn’t then you could potentially not do very much during a lesson. Don’t even get me started on the Friday morning Maths! This was a quickfire session where we had a test of a variety of facts. The teacher read out the facts and we had about 10 seconds to record the answer, calculating in our head.
Did the teacher use physical materials to ensure we had a good visual of the concept? Did we discuss the concept? No.
Using talk – the key to understanding
The key to really understanding a new concept is allowing new connections to be made in the brain. Using talk is a great way to help the new pathways build and develop. We all need the opportunity to digest new learning and use it in a variety of ways to ensure it is committed to long term memory.
Also, alongside the opportunity to talk is giving a good visual to support the understanding. Teaching Maths well is about having the knowledge to reveal the learning step by step in a clear way. Physical materials and talk enable this to happen.
Previously I have written about the use of Oracy in developing understanding. In the picture above you can see the children are in a small group and are discussing something on the ipad. Giving the children something visual to discuss whether that is equipment, a picture or a video clip can be extremely powerful in allowing them to make connections. The talk that follows this is definitely the key to unlocking the learning.