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Monday, May 27, 2013

Number Talks: What is it?

Are you ready for Chapter 1 of Number Talks? I am so excited about this book and sharing it with all of you. Click on the link below to purchase the book and join in with us. You can also read chapter one free online!

A few weeks ago I shared with you my theory and philosophy of mathematics.

Number Talks helps support my theories. It talks about how most people view math as a set of rules and procedure to memorize in order to solve an equation. In reality, math is much more than that. It is the relationship between numbers that provide a solution and there are many different ways to create and build relationships.


There are three factors that students must have to be successful in math!

  • Accuracy – the ability to produce an accurate answer

  • Efficiency –  the ability to choose an appropriate strategy

  • Flexibility – the ability to use number relationships


 What is a Number Talk?

Number Talks are discussions about a particular problem that has been crafted in such a way that the key foundational ideas of mathematics can be evaluated and demonstrated.  These talks take about 5-15 minutes and are typically held 3-5 times a week. These talks allow students to share their thoughts and ideas about math. It can be taught in whole or small groups. This gives you flexibility to meet the varying needs of your students.

This video is designed as a comical introduction but it does provide a lot information about Number Talks including how it is aligned to the common core.


Designing a Number Talk

We will discuss this more in depth in chapter 2 but I love how this book uses the “silent thumb” to give students “think time.” I also like that no answer is wrong. Student “defend” or “dispute” a strategy. The students can agree or disagree with anyone in the class including themselves. Not only is this helpful for number talks but is a great life skill to teach students how to respectfully disagree with someone.

Open ended questions allow the students to clarify and provide additional ideas. By asking more than one student to share his/her thought process, we are seeing that there truly are multiple ways to solve a problem. Students get a chance to see the relationships and explore them.

The classroom environment and community is the key to success. The teacher is seen as a guide not the master. Students are asked to clarify their own thinking, consider and test strategies, investigate and apply relationships, and learn that making mistakes and taking risks can and does lead to success. Students don’t simply find the solution to a problem and then move on. They are challenged to see how many different ways they can solve the same problem.


Let’s look at 2+2. I can count on my fingers (1), draw a picture (2), use the standard U.S. algorithm (3), can count on a number line (4), and I can double the number (5). I am sure there are other ways but I just listed 5 different ways to determine that 2+2 is 4. I can prove it and I can show it in a relationship.

This is what I love about Number Talks. There are a few challenges to implementing Number Talks.

First, the teacher must shift his/her thinking away from: What answer did you get? to How did you get that answer? Also, you have to teach your students to keep their comments on task or else your Number Talks will go on forever!

 In my classroom…

I was first introduced to Number Talks in an 1/2 combo ELD (English Language Development) classroom. While my students struggled with English they excelled with math. I found that the key to success is setting up the procedures and enforcing them.

My school runs on a 6 day cycle for everything so I am setting up my number talks the same way. .  just in a 3rd grade classroom. I schedule only 10 minutes in each day for Number Talks.

Days 1, 3, and 5 … I will lead the class in a whole group Number Talk.

Days, 2, 4, and 6 … each table group will work on a Number Talk that is similar to the one we learned the day before or a review item. I will switch and work with a different group each time.



Here are a few reflective questions to think about regarding this week’s chapter.

  • How is math currently taught in your classroom?

  • What are the strengths/weaknesses in this area?

  • What is your philosophy of math?How is your classroom environment structured?

  • Do you have an extra 10 minutes in your day that you can devote to math discussions?

  • How can you keep students on task during discussions?

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Number Talks - Think Wonder Teach

Join the linky party and share your thoughts on Number Talks!

Number Talks: What is it?


At May 27, 2013 at 8:43 PM , Blogger vicky1970 said...

Hi Misty,
Thank you again for all your help. I'm seriously in LOVE with my blog design. It's everything I hoped for and more. You guys are the best and the process was so effortless due to all of your collaboration. Thanks friend.
Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

At May 31, 2013 at 11:43 AM , Blogger Hoots and Hollers said...

Enjoyed reading this post! I have seen Number Talks and appreciate the opportunity to read the first chapter. Thanks for sharing your thoughts... Just found your blog today and am a new follower...

Sarah @ Hoots N Hollers


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