Back Talk highlights the learning of one or two students and their approach to solving a math problem. Each article includes the prompt used to initiate the discussion, a portion of dialogue, student work samples (when applicable), and teacher insights into the mathematical thinking of the students. A teacher relates her one-on-one interview with a fifth-grade student who is asked to solve a word problem using mental math.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplemental Materials (PDF 195 KB)

Contributor Notes

Gary N. Utz,, teaches fifthgrade math at A. S. Rhodes Elementary School in Front Royal, Virginia. He is interested in helping students develop a deep understanding of elementary school math by engaging learners in mathematical discussions.

Edited by Megan Kelly Murray,, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville; and Jane Moore,, an associate professor at National Louis University in Chicago, Illinois. E-mail your insights into a student's mathematical thinking to Include Back Talk in the subject line. Find detailed submission guidelines for all departments at

(Corresponding author is Utz
(Corresponding author is Murray
(Corresponding author is Moore
Teaching Children Mathematics
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