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Student-to-student dialogue

Changing patterns of classroom dialogue involves breaking traditional routines. You should clarify your expectations about:

  • how students can and should contribute
  • when and in what form
  • how others might respond.

The culture of respect for other students' ideas takes time to develop. It involves inculcating a willingness to hear and summarise contrasting ideas and approaches proposed by peers.

Viewing some clips from classroom discussions showing mathematics discourse in action is helpful. The video Who Can Repeat? from the Mathsolutions website shows a year 5 teacher training students to listen to and respect one another's reasoning by accepting and engaging with different viewpoints. The student-to-student listening is facilitated by asking others to repeat the main ideas.

While all teachers and students can work on this skill, ideally such training starts in the first year of schooling. The video How Did She Solve It?, also from the Mathsolutions website shows very young students explaining their reasoning processes and listening to the processes of others.