In a kindergarten classroom recently, I watched as the teacher shared a picture with students. She then asked students what math questions they had about the picture.
Students paired up and thought of questions related to the picture.
How many kids?
How many shoes?
How many slides?
How many circles on the roof?
How long is the slide?
They generated quite a list of questions.
What was beautiful about the activity was that students came up with questions that were appropriate for their mathematical ability. Some questions were more simple, and some required deeper thinking about the picture.
What happened next, however, distinguished the activity from other math related work. Students picked a question to focus on, and had a conversation about how they would attempt to answer the question.
The conversations that occurred among the twenty-three kindergarten students were rich with mathematical language and involved some deep critical thinking. Students shared strategies and ideas, proposed plans and refined them, and determined the best way to move forward.
It was evident that the math conversations taking place were setting up these young students for not only critical thinking in the math classroom, but also excitement and engagement about the mathematical process.
These daily math conversations will help build future mathematicians.