Lanigan teacher shares ‘math talk’ message

Desiree Harrison
Desiree Harrison (contributed photo)

Lanigan Elementary School teacher Desiree Harrison has spent part of her summer talking to teachers about how to get kids to talk about math.

When Harrison, who is in her sixth year of teaching third grade, went looking for ways to share her passion for elementary math, she found the Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching (CAMT). The annual Texas conference for teachers and supervisors of mathematics is “designed to improve the knowledge and skills of mathematics teachers and supervisors,” according to the organization’s website.

Harrison called her presentation “Kids Math Talk: Strategies that Foster Math Vocabulary Development”. In the classroom, kids talk about numbers when they do equations and figure out problems, she said. But they also need to explain what they’re doing.

“My whole focus is about getting kids to be comfortable talking about mathematics in the classroom,” Harrison said. “Standards come and go, but regardless, you have to be able to communicate your thinking…Mathematics is the gateway to understanding the world. The earlier we can get students to be precise in their language, the better.”

Desiree Harrison presentation

In addition to speaking, Harrison has developed a business around the “Kids Math Talk” theme. She talks about the concepts with a sense of urgency and points out that for this fall’s kindergarten students, “sixty-five percent of the jobs they’ll be exposed to haven’t been invented yet.”

“Instead of just putting math problems on the board, if we just get kids to think, it doesn’t matter what jobs they’ll have,” Harrison said. “They’ll be prepared.”

Learn more on Harrison’s website: tinyurl.com/kidsmathtalk.

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