One of the challenges of teaching content courses for prospective elementary teachers (PTs) is engaging PTs in deepening their conceptual understanding of mathematics they feel they already know (Thanheiser, Philipp, Fasteen, Strand, & Mills, 2013). We introduce the Diverge then Converge strategy for orchestrating mathematical discussions that we claim (1) engenders sustained engagement with a central conceptual issue and (2) supports a deeper understanding
of the issue by engaging PTs in considering both correct and incorrect reasoning. We describe a recent implementation of the strategy and present an analysis of students’ written responses that are coordinated with the phases of the discussion. We close by considering conditions under which the strategy appears particularly relevant, factors that appear to influence its effectiveness, and questions for future research.