Traditionally, small-group math
instruction has been used as a format for reaching children who struggle to
understand. Math coach Kassia Omohundro Wedekind uses small-group instruction
as the centerpiece of her math workshop approach, engaging all students in
rigorous "math exchanges." The key characteristics of these mathematical
conversations are that they are (1) short, focused sessions that bring all
mathematical minds together, (2) responsive to the needs of the specific group
of mathematicians, and (3) designed for meaningful, guided reflection.
As in reading and writing workshop,
students in Wedekind's math workshop are becoming self-directed and independent
while participating in a classroom community of learners. Through the math
exchanges, students focus on number sense and the big ideas of mathematics.
Teachers guide the conversations with small groups of students, mediating talk
and thinking as students share problem-solving strategies, discuss how math
works, and move torward more effective and efficient approaches and greater
Although grounded in theory and
research, Math Exchanges is written
for practicing teachers and answers such questions as the following:
How can I use a math
workshop approach and follow a certain textbook or set of standards?
How should I form small
groups? How often should I meet with small groups?
What should I focus on in
How can I tell if my
groups are making progress?
What do small-group math
exchanges look like, sound like, and feel like?