Talking in Numbers

Engaging the Whole Class in Math Conversation

As we shift student mindsets and get them excited about learning math, Congressional teachers are employing a number of teaching strategies. One strategy that has been widely embraced, particularly in the Primary and Lower School grades, is daily Number Talks.

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Students love Number Talks. They are quick (10 to 15 minutes) and they engage the whole class in discussion about math. Number Talks create a learning community where students collaborate on strategies to solve problems, share ideas, and articulate for the group their methodology. It’s a safe environment, with trial and error and discovery, where students lead the discussion and teachers are facilitators. Number Talks are a great tool for helping students understand the underlying concepts of the operations they are performing.

The discussions help students develop techniques to solve problems in more than one way and to check that their answers make sense, helping to develop computational fluency with three primary objectives:

          Accuracy - produce a correct answer

          Efficiency - choose the most expedient problem-solving method

          Flexibility - ability to use a range of computation strategies

What does this look like? We visited Mrs. Fry’s first grade class for a Number Talk...

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Number-Talk-Chat_2

This first grade Number Talk goes on for a few more minutes, until the board is filled and Mrs. Fry declares there’s no more room. The students voice their disappointment suggesting that she write smaller, so Mrs. Fry complies and the session continues.

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Independent Day School for Infant through Grade 8

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