1st Edition

Conferring in the Math Classroom A Practical Guidebook to Using 5-Minute Conferences to Grow Confident Mathematicians

By Gina Picha Copyright 2022

    All students enter our math classrooms with ideas worthy of discussion. Some of the most effective breakthroughs come from short, intentional conversations between students and teacher, yet planning for these moments can seem daunting. In her innovative book, Conferring in the Math Classroom: A Practical Guidebook to Using 5-Minute Conferences to Grow Confident Mathematicians, Gina Picha focuses on simple and transformative ways teachers can use math conferences, short conversations between teachers and small groups of students at work, to guide instruction, assess understanding, and build strong math thinkers.

    Inside you will learn to:

    • Facilitate math conferences to listen to students, identify and build on their strengths, and encourage them to share their math thinking
    • Build a positive math identity that will help nurture student-centered math classrooms
    • Ask exploratory questions to gain data-driven insight into their math reasoning and plan the next steps for instruction
    • Provide differentiated math instruction based on the individual or small group needs
    • Drive engaging and interactive math talk in the classroom

    Picha includes teacher questioning guides, If-Then charts organized by grade level and math topic, and note-taking templates to help you get started with math conferring right away.

    This practical and highly accessible approach can help students deepen their math understanding, build confidence in their math abilities, and connect learnings between math subjects.

    Part 1: Math Conferences; Chapter 1: Defining Math Conferences; Chapter 2: The Similarities and Differences between Math and Literacy Conferences; Chapter 3: Types of Math Conferences; Part 2: Effective Questioning; Chapter 4: Questioning to Promote Thinking and Understanding; Chapter 5: Selecting Questions for Specific Purposes; Part 3: Asset-Based Conferring; Chapter 6: Conferring from Students' Strengths; Chapter 7: Nudging Student Thinking and Inviting Conjecture in Beyond the Task Conferences; Part 4: Planning for Success; Chapter 8: Building a Math Community that Fosters Positive Math Identities; Chapter 9: Planning for Data Collection and Analysis; Chapter 10: Planning for the Tricky Parts


    Gina Picha, Ed.D. received her master’s degree in education from Aurora University and her doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University-Austin.  Gina has worked in education for the past fourteen years teaching kindergarten, first grade, fifth grade, and as an elementary instructional coach, K–12 curriculum specialist and K–5 district math coordinator. She is currently an elementary mathematics curriculum writer living in Austin, TX with her husband, Deric, and two sons, Nolan and Cort. 

    “Teachers who are trying to really listen to and learn from their students in math class will find a lot of helpful guidance here. Gina Picha stays true to her belief in children as powerful mathematical sense-makers while explicitly addressing ways to help them develop mathematical identity and autonomy in empowering ways.” —Ruth Parker, mathematics educator, author and co-developer of Number Talks

    “Finally, we have a guidebook for the most crucial teaching moment of our math block! By conferring we teach so the learning endures for life. The strategies Gina Picha presents will transform our mathematics classrooms and communities, teach us to know students’ strengths and learning goals through our strategic listening and questioning, and simplify our instruction through authentic conversation, all while empowering our students with confidence in their identity as mathematicians. Conferring in the Math Classroom is a must-have resource for every math teacher.” —Corinna Green, Elementary Instructional Coach & Teaching Consultant

    “Packed full of examples, illustrations, and charts, this book truly provides strong support for learning to talk with small groups of students to support and extend their mathematical thinking. At the heart of Gina’s book is developing positive math identities with students (and teachers). Beautifully written and immensely useful.” —Jennifer Bay-Williams, professor, University of Louisville

    “Engaging in conversations with students about their mathematical thinking gives teachers a lens into how their students are currently thinking about the key ideas being addressed in a lesson. In Conferring in the Math Classroom, Gina Picha masterfully outlines how teachers can plan for and facilitate meaningful math conferences with their students. The book is full of examples and resources to make this routine easy to implement. If you are a teacher, math coach, or other educational leader looking to elevate students' mathematical discourse, then this book is for you.” —Mike Flynn, author of Beyond Answers

    “The ability to confer well is the teacher magic that meets children right where they are to give them perfectly dosed instruction. So many of us can do this well in reading and writing and now we finally have a guide to help us create these powerful math conversations and invitations as well. Let the math magic begin!” Jen McDonough, coauthor of Conferring with Young Writers: What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do

    "Conferring in the Math Classroom not only gives practical advice and tools for growing students in their math understanding, but it also highlights the importance of conferring to build those positive math identities in an environment where students feel safe to take risks. Gina encourages us to draw from student strengths when nudging them forward, and she just might help you reshape your own math identity as well!” —Casey Koester, third-grade teacher, M.Ed

    "I am always in search of professional books that put the mathematics, pedagogy, and implementation support alongside the development of a collaborative classroom community. Gina has gifted us such a book. Each chapter includes thoughtful, practical structures that can be used to elicit and center students’ ideas. The focus on listening and observing as students share ideas, elevates the importance of teachers building on students’ thinking and strengths to take them further and deeper into the mathematics. The in-practice classroom stories and student examples bring to life a vision of what it looks like to utilize conferring as a daily classroom practice.” —Kristin Gray, math educator