Professional Development

Can we get students to "explain their reasoning"?

In this video Michael argues that explanations are quite important in mathematical learning, even though students often have a very difficult time explaining why procedures work. He thinks there's a research-based case for why students should learn to explain – in short, you can't get the benefits of self-explanation if you don't know what a good explanation looks like in the first place! But getting better at anything requires practice, so how can we help students practice their explanations? Michael ends by sharing several ideas he’s used in his own classroom teaching for scaffolding this kind of practice.

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About Michael Pershan

Michael Pershan is a mathematics teacher and writer in New York City. He currently teaches both primary and secondary students at Saint Ann's School and is author of the book "Teaching Math With Examples." Michael's educational work can be found at,, and

Ages: Secondary, Higher Education