The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Relaunching Number Talks

I have been using Number Talks in my classroom during math for a few years now, but I admit that the process hasn’t been done with total fidelity. I have used bits and pieces of it, but I’ve been struggling to get my students fully engaged in the concept of student-led conversations with intentional talks. So even though we are less than two months away from the end of the year, I asked my long-time friend and Teacher Collaborator, Dr. Thompson, to come in and help us relaunch this process. He gladly agreed and we made plans to start this week. I was out sick yesterday, so we had to put off our relaunch today.

Number Talks are short (5-10 minute) discussions around a math problem that foster students’ mathematical understanding, focusing on accuracy, flexibility, and efficiency with different strategies. We have had these conversations throughout the year, but the component we have been missing is where students talk to each other about their mathematical thinking. This is going to be the focus of our week-long relaunch.

We started today with introducing the protocol for Number Talks. We did this by watching a video of a class doing one with their teacher. While we watched the video, my class was responsible for noticing what the students were doing and what the teacher was doing. Then we made an anchor chart for the students to refer to when we do Number Talks in the future.

My students noticed that the students in the video used hand signals to indicate that they had an answer, a solution, a different solution, and agreement. They saw that the students actively listened to the speaker. They told us that the students in the video were clearly thinking about the problem and considering ways to solve the problem. They also noticed that the teacher was responsible for recording the students’ thinking without judgment (there was no “yes, you’re right” or “no, you’re wrong”) and that the teacher provided challenging problems for the students to solve.


Tomorrow we will do a Number Talk as a class to let the students start putting ideas into practice. Then we will start working student-led conversations, in which the students will talk to each other about their mathematical thinking and discussing different strategies.


One response

  1. Pingback: New Front Row Lesson Plans |

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