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Notice and Wonder: Using Photos to Spark Mathematical Conversations

Two of the most powerful questions we can ask young children are: What do you notice? and What do you wonder? We will share an engaging and playful language-building routine called Photo Chats that has all the criteria of a “quick win”—no cost, do-anywhere, deepens over time, and spans the ages. Digital photographs are one of the most accessible materials at our fingertips. Learn how conversations around compelling, culturally relevant photographs build language skills that boost and help formalize mathematical thinking. We will examine how mathematical conversation develops from birth to age 8 and look at how Photo Chats supports the progression from infants’ receptive and more global understanding of attribute to the increasingly focused and precise understanding of quantity, shape, and spatial relationships in kindergarten and the primary grades. Using examples from early care and school classrooms, we will consider important instructional decisions to keep in mind and share ready-to-use resources to start talking math today!



Rakhee Dodia graduated from Erikson Institute with an M.S. in Early Childhood Education, leading to licensure and specialization in ESL endorsement. She has 10 years of experience as a K-3 classroom teacher starting in New York Public Schools and then Chicago Public Schools. Currently, she is facilitating professional development about precursor early math concepts for 0-3 early childcare providers as well as coaching Kindergarten teachers throughout Illinois.

Rakhee Dodia

Jeanine O’Nan Brownell is a founding member of Erikson Institute's Early Math Collaborative. She is an early childhood teacher with experience in preschool to third-grade classrooms, and has worked as a mentor to new teachers, an instructional coach, and an author of early mathematics curriculum. She is one of the authors of Big Ideas of Early Mathematics; What Teachers of Young Children Need to Know (Pearson, 2014).  She works with school districts, childcare centers, and agencies to design programs of professional learning for PreK-3rd grade teachers. She is adjunct faculty at Loyola University Chicago School of Education and at Erikson Institute.


Jeanine Brownell

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