NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

Bringing Education to You

K-12 Professionals

Building Mathematical Conversations K-4

EDUC 792 or 600




Instructor: Dr. Larry Napoleon

Grading: Letter

Spring, Summer & Fall (Ongoing)

Instruction Mode: Internet-Asynchronous (Online Class)

Academic Level: K-12 Professional Development

NDSU Credit Fee: $390

Partner Class Offered Through Learner's Edge

Course Description:

Ask a group of elementary school students to name a language, and chances are they will not reply “mathematics.” Yet from the time young children begin going to school, they are expected to discuss their mathematical thinking using the vocabulary, structures, and ideas of mathematics. In this workshop, participants will learn why communicating about mathematics is important for young students, as well as why it can be so difficult for them. They will consider how math and literacy instruction intersect in the elementary classroom, and explore ways of pushing students to explain their thinking beyond “I just know the answer.” Participants will learn questioning strategies that can help students communicate, justify, and defend their mathematical ideas, and watch videos of real classroom teachers using these strategies. By the end of this workshop, participants will have created a lesson plan that integrates communication-based activities into their elementary math instruction.


As a result of participation in this course, students should:

  1. Ask questions that elicit student ideas about mathematics.
  2. Use multiple pieces of student work to assess a student’s understanding of a problem.
  3. Conduct a student interview.
  4. Develop activities and lesson plans that promote oral and written communication about mathematical ideas.
  5. Incorporate literacy-based activities into elementary mathematics.


The required reading is found in the following articles/websites:

Articles:  (referenced in the study guide and linked in your online course)

  • Fogelberg, Ellen. (2008). The Guilford Press: Integrating Literacy and Math – Comparing Literacy and Math Thinking Skills, Pgs. 4-8
  • Granofsky, Burt. (2000-2009). Education Development Center: Asking Questions that Help Students Communicate Their Ideas.
  • Hancewicz, Euthecia. (). Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction: Discourse in the Mathematics Classroom, pgs. 72-75 and 80-87.
  • Houghlin-Mifflin: Math Talk Learning Community (http://www.eduplace.com/math/mthexp/pdf/mathtalk.pdf).
  • Kenney, Joan. (2005).  ASCD: Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction: Chapter 1. Mathematics as Language.
  • Metsisto, Diana. (2005). ASCD: Reading in the Mathematics Classroom.
  • Peterson, Jamee. (Summer, 2004). Marilyn Burns Education Assoc.: Big and Little: A Lesson for Third Graders, Online Newsletter #14.
  • Silbey, Robyn. Scholastic, Inc: Math Think-Alouds (http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/math-think-alouds).


www.mathwire.com (2006-2010). Writing in Mathematics (http://www.mathwire.com/writing/writing1.html). http://www2.ups.edu/community/tofu/lev2/journaling/writemath.htm - University of Puget Sound: Using Writing in Mathematics.

**Registration Instructions:

Course is not available print-based.

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