I firmly believe in teaching students math through meaningful inquiry, problem solving and rich tasks. One of the easiest ways to do this consistently and see great results is through daily number talks.
Over time, number talks allow kids to develop new strategies for math operations, deepen their number sense and understanding of those operations and retain what they learn.
I hope the resources on this page encourage you to give number talks a try if this is a new idea for you!
What is a Number Talk?
A number talk is a short discussion of a math computation problem. Students take turns sharing their solution to the problem and what strategy they used to get that solution.
Their work is done mentally, however, without paper, pencil or calculator.
Number talks can be used to explore any operation-addition, subtraction, multiplication or division-and can involve whole numbers, decimals or fractions.
How Number Talks Deepen Understanding
So why is a simple 10 minute conversation such a powerful tool in the math classroom? Here are a few reasons I believe these benefit our students:
- Without paper and pencil, students are forced to think of other ways of solving problems. This might involve decomposing numbers, using place value, etc. This will deepen their number sense as they become more fluent and flexible with numbers and operations
- They provide all students the opportunity to participate at their own ability level. Advanced students will come up with advanced or multiple strategies, while struggling learners can begin with less efficient, but still effective strategies.
- They help kids to understand operations conceptually without relying on gimmicks, memorization or formal algorithms
Read more about what number talks are and why they should be an essential part of your math routine:
Getting Started with Number Talks
If you’re ready to learn all there is to know and start your number talks off on the right foot, check out my online course:
If you’re not ready to dive into the complete course yet, grab a FREE set of number talk planning pages! These pages will help you to think through exactly what problems to challenge your kids with (and also be prepared for those days when the problem you chose just isn’t a good fit!).