Encouraging Student Voices

Students typically do not associate math class with oral presentations! Guidance is often needed as students think out loud and present their mathematical pondering. These strategies enhance students’ recording ability and confidence, and create conditions to support students in recording their mathematical thinking through audio.


With Peers

Small groups share one iPad. Assigning a typist prompts students to vocalize their thoughts to the typist. Students might also interview each other about their strategies and solutions. It is important to model wait time and set group expectations.


Students write a short script, outline or talking points prior to recording. Additionally students might be self-conscious recording in the same room with their peers, so if possible, allow them to step out into the hallway to record their thinklet.

Possible Group/Interview Questions

How did you decide to [pick a specific number, expression, image]?
Did you consider other strategies?
Had you seen a problem like this before?
How would you explain this to a student who is still in grade _____?

Sensory Alternative

Encourage students to review their thinklets or explain their solution to a peer with their eyes
closed. This allows students to focus on the oral communication and block out distractions.


Create class templates for math “storytelling.”
1. For younger grades read the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series or similar books that have cause and effect flow.
2. For older students you can introduce the concept of an “elevator pitch” or alternative like the Pixar outline. Attributed to Emma Coats, a former artist at Pixar Animation Studios, every Pixar film has the same narrative structure:
Once upon a time____________. Every day____________. One day____________. Because of that, ____________. Because of that,_____________. Until finally___________.
You can find other #storybasics from Emma on her blog.