Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 1 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge: Number Talks

Post updated 08/24/2014

I'm joining the 30 day blog challenge. I've needed the motivation! Today I want to put one of my goals for this school year out there. This way all my friends can help hold me accountable! One of my goals is to fine tune my Number Talks.

What is a Number Talk? 

Number Talks are a fantastic way to increase your students flexibility with numbers. You may think you do number talks already...that's what I thought too. Then I was shown a video of Sherry Parrish (author of Number Talks) demonstrating it. I was blown away. It's mental math on steroids in only 10 minutes! My kids absolutely loved it.

How it Works 

The teacher writes a number problem on the board. Students are given think time. When they have an answer, they give a thumbs up against their chest. The teacher then calls on various students to share their strategy. The amazing thing is that the kids learn the correct terminology for each strategy and are able to assist each other when someone struggles. (I recommend using a different color marker for each strategy used so kids can easily reference previous strategies.) Their confidence soars! Keep in mind that the whole process should last no more than 10 minutes. Here is a video describing Number Talks. Notice how the kids are able to articulate their thoughts (as short as the clip is) and help each other.


The Brain Connection

Another reason I like number talks so much is that allows students to practice holding information in their working memory. The more they practice, the better they get! Can you think of some of your own students that could benefit from that?

Want to know more?

You can get more information from Sherry Parrish's book, Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies.  One thing I appreciate about her book is the videos demonstrating number talks at all the different grade levels K-5. It is definitely worth the money.

For additional support I found a fabulous Number Talks Bundle (pictured below) created by All Sorts of Math on Teachers Pay Teachers. I'll be making good use of it! The super pack includes:

This super pack includes: 
(1) Routine Picture Cards*
(2) Vocabulary Picture Cards
(3) Talking Frames*
(4) Number Strings 
(5) Instructions & Number Sense Rationale*

There are 8 PDF files for each of the 8 Add/Subtraction Strategies:
(1) Addition w/ Doubles/Near Doubles - 3 Categories, 30 Strings
(2) Addition w/ Friendly Numbers - 3 Categories, 30 Strings
(3) Addition w/ Compensation - 3 Categories, 27 Strings
(4) Addition w/ Place Value - 3 Categories, 27 Strings
(5) Addition w/ Adding Up in Chunks - 3 Categories, 27 Strings
(6) Addition w/ Making Tens - 3 Categories, 30 Strings
(7) Subtraction w/ Adding Up - 3 Categories, 27 Strings
(8) Subtraction w/ Removal - 3 Categories, 27 Strings

Click here to go to the Number Talks Bundle
She has number talks for other grade levels listed also.

That's one of my goals for the year...what is one of your goals?


  1. Very cool Diane...

    I have never heard of number talks before... although it sounds like the premise is very similar to a book talk when we are working on literacy.

    It is so critical for teachers & learners to make their thinking visible... for some reason it is a tipping point in mathematics. It is almost as if a light bulb goes off when we start sharing our thinking & strategies with those around us.

    Whoever said that math was an individual, independent opportunity to learn has never struggled.

    I am excited to share your post with others:)

  2. I am going to learn more about this for sure! I am a former "I'm bad at math-er," so it is very important for me to get excited about math. Teaching it to my students has helped me. I didn't realize how easily I had gotten by without really understanding what I was doing. I knew enough to pass and I was really nice so I think people helped me and didn't show me. If I had ever been asked to explain, I would have been "found out!" One of my goals as a teacher is to make sure that my kids have time for discussion, explanation, and that they can defend their thoughts! Happy School New Year!

  3. Great post
    Have you read the book Making thinking Visible
    It is so important to make the learning real and tangible
    Thank you for joining and I look forward to reading and learning together