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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Talking Math: Integrating Communication and Content Learning in Math: A Case Study of a Secondary Mathematics Classroom

Ginny Huang, Bruce Normandia, Sandra Greer.

For over 75 years, literacy educators have admonished secondary content area teachers to infuse the teaching of content with literacy instruction (Moore, Readence, & Rickelman, 1983). In essence, this is a call for an integration between language and subject area content. Unfortunately, the call has not been embraced by secondary mathematics teachers. NCTM (1998, 2000) has acknowledged that “mathematics can be thought as a language that must be meaningful if students are to communicate mathematically and apply mathematics productively”. Studies in the area of mathematics education have revealed that reflection and communication are the key processes in building understanding. However, studies of communication in and about mathematics from a linguistic perspective are limited. Facing the challenges of teaching the math content and engaging students in communicating about math, classroom teachers need to have the knowledge and the skills to approach mathematics teaching from both content and linguistic perspectives.

The proposed paper takes a sociocultural perspective to report on a case study of a secondary mathematics class where the teacher attempts to engage students in talking math. Following Lemke’s conceptualization of talking science (1990, p. ix), the paper views talking math as doing math through the medium of language of math. Through discourse analysis of teacher talk and student talk, the study focuses on the relationship between discourse features and various aspects of math content introduced and learned at the secondary level. Findings of the study may provide instructional implications for integration of learning and communicating about mathematics.


Ginny Huang  (United States)
Assisstant Professor in Education
Department of Curriculum and Instruction School of Education
Monmouth University, New Jersey, USA

Jingzi Huang earned her Ph.D from the University of British Columbia, Canada. She had taught EFL in China and served as a an ESL and foreign language teacher in a Canadian public secondary school for years before joining the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Monmouth University in the US as an assistant professor. While teaching courses in Secondary Content Literacy and Curriculum and Instruction at the graduate and undergraduate levels, she has presented at numerous conferences and published in the areas of applied linguistics and language education.

Bruce Normandia

Bruce Normandia, with a Doctorate in Mathematics Education from Rutgers University, has been a mathematics educator in the US for over 33 years. Having been a teacher, supervisor, principal, and Superintendent, he is currently Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Monmouth University. As an original member of the committee that developed the New Jersey Standards for Mathematics Education, he assisted in the development of the New Jersey Mathematics Curriculum Framework. A well sought speaker for change for over 60 school districts throughout New Jersey, Dr. Normandia is widely published in the field of mathematics education.

Sandra Greer

Sandra Greer has been teaching high school mathematics for six years. She has also taught courses as an adjunct at Wagner College in New York where she received her bachelor's degree in 1975. Mrs. Greer has been involved with several adult education programs as well. She is currently a graduate student at Monmouth University in New Jersey.

  • Math Learning and Communicating
  • Secondary Math Instruction
  • Talking Math
Person as Subject
  • A secondary math teacher. 20 secondary students taking advanced math.

(30 min Conference Paper, English)