Working Through Number Talks
What is it?
Number talks is a brief, ongoing math routine that helps students develop number sense and computational fluency. If you are new to Number Talks, I recommend the following books which have helped me along my journey over the years.
I have been using number talks in my elementary math classroom for seven years now and I thoroughly enjoy them and so do my students. The amount of growth in number sense, discourse and confidence in my students has been attributed to the use of Number Talks and the tweak I made six years ago.
Here is how a typical number talk would play out:
Students gather on the carpet in a half circle facing a whiteboard (if your room is not large enough you may have your students stay at their desks)
The teacher will write the problem horizontally on the board for students to solve mentally.
Students begin by placing their fists on their chest and begin thinking of ways to solve the problem. Once a student has solved the problem using a strategy, they extend their thumb from the fist that is against the chest.
Students will continue to solve the problem using a different strategy and will extend another finger (now showing the thumb and index finger against their chest) indicating to the teacher they have solved the problem using two different strategies.
Once the teacher has scanned the room looking for thumbs up or a good amount of time they will ask for students to raise their hand and share the answer to the problem as the teacher writes them on the board (students like to go into sharing their strategy right away but we have to hold off until we have all the possible solutions students came up with).
Students then decide which answer they would like to defend and begin sharing their strategy to solving the questions as the teacher writes out the strategy on the board (it is important for the teacher to use models that best suit the strategy and ensure they do not steer the students thinking to where the teacher wants it to go).
Classmates may agree or disagree with their peer’s strategy and can explain why.
The teacher can select one or two more students to defend a different solution or the same solutions but using a different strategy.