Material Type:
Lower Elementary
  • Lesson Plan
  • Math Conversations
  • Number Talks
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    Introduction to Math discourse

    Introduction to Math discourse


    THis is a lesson plan for the beginning of the year to help 2nd graders see themselves as a mathematician and begin setting up math conversatoin routines in the classroom.


    This lesson is for teachers who want to create opportunities for math discourse  and language routines in their classroom to help students get comfortable with sharing their thoughts and observations aobut numbers and mathematics, get them comfortable with not being afraid of saying the wrong answer because there is NO wrong answer in the discourse-

    • Takes approx. 45-60 min.  depending on how much time you give for end project
    • Format : face to face

    Background for Teachers


    • To teach this lesson, you will need an understanding of what math discourse is:  See attached video 
    • The following resources can help you teach this topic...


    Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes

    Step 1 Goals and Outcomes


    Learning Intentions:

    • Students will be able to visualize themselves as a mathematician and understand that talking about math is important.

    Success Criteria:

    • Students will complete a booklet identifying themselves as a mathematician and identify  mathematician characteristics that  they connect to.   
    • Students will practice math talk routines


    Step 2 - Planning Instruction

    Step 2 Planning Instruction


    1. make I am a mathematician booklets copies.  

    2. prepare video to stream

    3. prep chart paper labeled "Mathematicians...."

    4. Make sentence stem posters for number talks

    Student Background Knowledge

    Activate student background knowledge Activity:   10 min. 

    1. Place a large piece of chart paper on the board labeled "Mathematicians....."

    2. Ask students:  What do you think a mathematician looks like and sketch an image on the board according to their suggestions. 

    3.  Say:   Yes.... a mathematician COULD look like this but a mathematician also looks like Addy!  (point to student and have them stand up) And John! And Mekhi!  And Jesus!  (point to all students one at a time  and say their name and have them stand up until whole class is stadnding)

    4.  Say: We are all mathematicians because we all use numbers!   What do mathematicians say? do? use?

    Brainstorm characteristics of a mathematician and make a  list on the chart paper.  

    Strategies for Diverse Learners are built in with sentence stems 


    Step 3 - Instruction

    Step 3 Instruction

    After activiate background knowledge activity  in section 2 (about 10 min.) 

    1.  Say:  We are going to watch a story called "Math Curse"  about a girl who got a little overwhelmed by numbers and as you watch, I want you to think about what we should do if we get overwhelmed by numbers.

    2,. Show video : emedia resource attached. "Math Curse" by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. (15 min. video) 

    3.  Why do you think all those numbers in her life became a problem for the main character?

    4. How did she solve her problerm?

    5.  What can you do if you get overwhelmed by numbers?

    6. After discussing for 1-2 min. say;    You had some great ideas.  One way we can help ourselves make sense of numbers and not get overwhelmed is to TALK about numbers. In 2nd grade we LOVE to talk about numbers and share our ideas with one another.  Today we are going to practice that mathematician skill!

    7.  show a math problem image on the board that promotes flexible thinking:  (there are many  digital and print bundles on TPT) 

    Add or subtract to build the target number

    8. give students option of thinking about it in thier head or using paper.  Have them give you a thumbs up on their chest when they are ready to share an idea.  Give sufficient wait time for many to respond.

    9.  say: sometimes it helps us begin to talk about something if we have some sentence starters to organize our thinking.

    Model explaining my thinking with a sentence stem:   In my head I saw that 30, 20, and 10 all had 0's at the end of the numbers.  I thought about how they were connected.  The strategy I used was 30 - 10 = 20

    anyone who used my strategy give me a thumbs up.   Did anyone use a different strategy?  You could use this sentence stem:   I saw it differently, I _____________.  or My strategy was similar, I __________________.   

    Practice with those 4 sentence stems today for a few minutes with turn and talk to a budy with one person beginning the conversatons and the other person acknowledging their strategy with the similar or different sentence stem to explain their strategy.    

    Finish with "I am a mathematician" booklet assessent in next section.

    Step 4 - Assessments

    Step 4 Assessments


    1. Assessment will be practice of math talk sentence stems with a partner in the last section

    2. Students will complete the "I am a mathematician" booklet identifying themselves as a mathematician with a drawing; listing some characteristics mathematicians do that they connect to, and creating a math problem with their name.  (see attached file,  It is a foldable book.  You can also practice routines of folding paper into a book, and understanding vocab words: portrait and landscape in the folding process)