Effective Number Talks in Grades K-5

A number talk is a short daily routine that helps students develop mental math skills, practice computational fluency and learn how to talk about math. The students are encouraged to use operations in ways that are meaningful to them, clarify their own thinking and apply number relationships. Number talks are for thinking and talking.          No worksheets required!

Number Talk Steps

  1. The teacher presents a computational problem.
  2. Using mental math skills students silently figure out the answer and put their thumb up when they have the answer.
  3. Three or four students share the strategies they used to arrive at their answers as the teacher writes them down.
  4. The class asks questions and discusses the strategies used. Finally they agree on an answer.

The Roll of the Teacher in Number Talks

  1. Value the thinking of all students.
  2. Select appropriate problems that focus on concepts the students have learned.
  3. Record, clarify and focus on what the students say. Ask questions like How did you figure that out? Who did it another way? Who solved it the same way? Does anyone have any questions for Sally? Sally tell us the first thing you did?
  4. Informally assess students and plan small group instruction where necessary.

Click here to download number talk sentence starters and hand signals.

number talk bubbles    hand signals