Mathematically Accountable Talk
Excerpts from an article by Lauren Resnick
Making America Smarter: A Century's Assumptions About Innate
Ability Give Way to a Belief in the Power of Effort
Resnick, Lauren B. (1999, June 16). Education Week,
Click here for full article
Effort-Based Education and Learnable Intelligence:
Principles for Teaching and Learning
For several years, the Institute for Learning at the University of
Pittsburgh has been working with school systems across the country to
set students -- and whole school faculties -- on the upward,
getting-smarter spiral. A core set of principles guides this work,
principles that educators have found both inspiring and practical.
These principles, which can be illustrated in multiple examples of
specific school and classroom practice, are based on cognitive
research and research on learning organizations. Here they are in a
- Accountable Talk.
- Talking with others about ideas and
work is fundamental to learning. But not all talk sustains learning or
creates intelligence. For classroom talk to promote learning, it must have
certain characteristics that make it accountable. Accountable talk
seriously responds to and further develops what others in the group have
said. It puts forth and demands knowledge that is accurate and relevant to
the issue under discussion. Accountable talk uses evidence in ways
appropriate to the discipline (for example, proofs in mathematics, data
from investigations in science, textual details in literature, documentary
sources in history). Finally, it follows established norms of good
reasoning. Accountable talk sharpens students' thinking by reinforcing
their ability to use knowledge appropriately. As such, it helps develop
the skills and habits of mind that constitute intelligence-in-practice.
Teachers can intentionally create the norms and skills of accountable talk
in their classrooms.
- Socializing Intelligence.
- Intelligent habits of mind are
learned through the daily expectations placed on the learner. By calling on
students to use the skills of intelligent thinking and accountable talk,
and by holding them responsible for doing so, educators can "teach"
intelligence. This is what teachers normally do with students they expect
much from; it should be standard practice with all students.