Mathematical Communication and Student Presentations

The culminating activity for the Stacking Cups problem was a group presentation. It is, in fact, a critical aspect in developing understanding for students. While cooperative tasks allow ample opportunities for students to share their ideas and listen to their group-mates, it is often not until the group's thinking is brought to the entire class that they are must more carefully use mathematical terminology, organize their thinking more logically, and extend their thinking based on the input of those outside the group.

The Stacking Cups lesson in Ms. England's class provides students with opportunities to communicate within their group and in front of the entire class. When Group 1 goes up to make their presentation, the understanding they developed within their learning group must be communicated to their classmates. As Ms. England engages these students in a short discussion that challenges them to not only be more clear, but also extends their understanding. Note how all group members contribute to formulating a response.


graph_parallel2 Notice the connection students have made as they explain why the two lines on their graph are parallel AND how this relates to their slopes being equal! They are even able to explain why the y-intercepts of the two lines are different.

Something to think about: When extensions of the intended learning may arise, it is effective to have group presentations ordered such that those focused simply on the objectives at hand take place before those that reflect more complex insights.