Developing Understanding through Discourse

Focus Area: Student-Centered Math


Pathway: Understanding


Student-centered mathematics instruction engages all students through creativity, exploration, and collaboration. It encourages the development of mathematical language alongside conceptual understanding and results in authentic procedural fluency.

The Student-Centered Mathematics Virtual Workshop Series is created to serve as your learning community’s launch into a student-centered math initiative.  This experience draws on tenets of active pedagogy to create a learning environment where teachers can dive into some of the pillars of a student-centered math approach, including the leveraging of meaningful math discourse and a problem study orientation. The workshop prioritizes an understanding of these approaches through modeling and experiencing the concepts as learners, and debriefing to discuss steps for implementation. The five 2-hour virtual sessions provide participants with a structure that is job-embedded and continuous, and support participants to try, measure, and learn in a cyclical format as a learning community.

  • Session A: Getting Started with Student-Centered Math
  • Session B: Developing Understanding through Discourse
  • Session C: Using Scaffolds and Choice to Support Math Learning
  • Session D: Humanizing Math Class to Create Positive Learning Experiences
  • Session E: Using Visual Representations to Support Math Reasoning


This product is for educators who teach math at any grade level. 


  • Three, four, or five 2-hour sessions 
  • Up to 20 educators per BetterLesson Coach


Participants will reflect on each of the following questions and collaborate to answer them for their specific school context: 

  • What is a student-centered approach to teaching math and why is it preferable? 
  • What is the difference between conceptual understanding and procedural fluency?
  • How can math discourse be structured to support development of concepts?
  • How can student representation of math concepts support deeper understanding?
  • What are some key indicators of teacher success in a student-centered math classroom?
  • How can a discourse and representation routine support growth and mastery over time?
  • How can we plan for all students to be successful within a student-centered approach?
  • How can we create a classroom environment with the norms, procedures, and culture in which students develop a growth mindset and a positive disposition toward math?

Learning Experience

Session B: Developing Understanding through Discourse

  • Define mathematical discourse & its role in student-centered math.
  • Explore strategies & approaches that promote math discourse.
  • Build a plan for promoting mathematical discourse.