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How to Showcase Your Students’ Thinking in Math: Consolidating with Bansho

by Neil Finney

How to Showcase Your Students’ Thinking in Math: Consolidating with BanshoStudent thinking in math is creative and resourceful. There are so many innovative methods that students will use when solving a math problem that there needs to be an effective way to recognize, organize, and share these strategies. During the consolidation part of your lesson, generating student-led conversations about the math can help to move your class along in their understanding of key math concepts and ideas.


Here’s an approach that you can use to showcase student thinking in Math:

“Bansho” comes from the Japanese word meaning “blackboard.” It is used as a tool for students to learn different processes and approaches that have been used to solve a problem. This should be used as a way of informing your program’s next steps – not to directly assess students. Chart paper solutions to problems are posted on the wall using a spectrum from left to right (of mathematical richness) that group responses by the method/strategy used to solve the problem.

Key to the process of using Bansho is that students explain their planning, strategies and solutions to the problem. As a result, their classmates have the opportunity to consider different ways of thinking about the problem and are able to visualize the mathematical “richness” of different approaches.

For more information on Bansho, check out this link:

When you use a problem-solving focus in your math program; the key to your planning lies in the consolidation piece. Allowing opportunities for students to describe their thinking and demonstrate their own strategies will draw the map you need for planning next steps. From the moment that I started using Bansho in my math program, students were excited to have the opportunity to share their success. Both engagement and achievement seemed to improve and math become more fun and interactive. There’s no telling where the math conversations can go when you provide the right forum for students to have a voice.


Tell us about a creative method you use to have your students share their mathematical thinking. How has this helped your students in understanding math concepts and ideas?



During Neilʼs 10 years of teaching experience, he has taught in London, England; Ontario; public and private schools; elementary and secondary; junior; intermediate; core french; developmental skills; and junior gifted (grades 4,5,6). He is a Reading Specialist that has been incorporating technology in his practice consistently throughout his career. Neil has recently published his first book entitled “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.” – Examining 21st Century Issues in Education, which is a collection of teaching articles and posts written from January to December 2011.


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