Saturday, July 26, 2014

Number Talks

Last year I was introduced to a book called Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computational Strategies written by Sherry Parrish.  It is a little pricey, but well worth the investment.  It is a wonderful resource for grades K-5 because it provides chapters on how to create meaningful number talk and gives lots of samples that you can use.
So, if you've never heard of number talks- what is it? In a nutshell, it is a time to develop mental math strategies and a time to practice communicating and listening in math.  It's designed to be short, but powerful.
Here are some guidelines the book provides for Number Talks.
1.  Pick a location in the classroom where you are close together so it is easier for you to observe and interaction.
2.  Give plenty of wait time for all students to be able to attempt the problem.
3.  Accept, respect and consider all answers.
4.  Encourage students communication throughout the math talk.

In Kindergarten,  I used the SmartBoard to do my number talks.  I focused primarily on Dot Cards and different representations of numbers.  At the beginning of my math talks, I focused on subitzing and they were more Tell Me Fast kind of things where students looked at dots on a ten frame or random dots and figured out how many there were.  Here's a blog post about it from last year and a freebie.  Later on in the year, I focused on how students added to get their answers.  I would give them a dot configuration and students would see combinations of numbers and add to get an answer.  For example, if I showed this:
Students might see the top 5 and the bottom 2 and say "I see 5 on the top and 2 on the bottom.  That's 7."  or a student might see the 3s on the side and say "I see 3 on one side, 3 on the other and 1 in the middle- that's 7."  I would write down the number sentence that they did just to connect it to an equation.  Students LOVED this- it was one of their favorite parts of the day!  Sometimes I used dice, sometime I used dominoes, sometimes I used 10 frames and sometimes I used rekenreks.   You can get my dot configurations that you see above by clicking on the link.

The great thing about the book is that they give you samples of what to do!  That's such a time saver for me!

So, moving to 3rd grade I still want to use number talks in the classroom as a piece of my math instruction.  I went to the book for help!  It gives you sample sequences for addition and subtraction and multiplication and division.  I began with addition.  I made cards that look like this.

The author broke the addition into different categories:
  • Making 10
  • Friendly Numbers
  • Doubles and Near Doubles
  • Place Value
  • Adding up in Chunks

I made header cards for each of these.  I plan to print, laminate and cut out the cards and store them in those index card holders that Target has right now in back to school supplies.  We will begin easy with the making 10 cards, I think, until I get a feel for what they know.  Then we'll move wherever they need to go depending on their needs.

We will do Number Talks in our meeting area and I will write the number sentences, one at a time, on my white board/easel.  Then I will give students time to process.  The book suggests a signal that students do that shows they have an answer- like a thumbs-up in front of their chest or something like that.  Then I will ask students to explain how they got their answer and I will record their thinking on the white board.  We will talk about their strategies as a class and ask questions/discuss as needed.

I don't think students will have done this a lot in previous classrooms so it will be difficult at first to get them to share their thinking.  But once they begin number talks, it is such a powerful way for students to talk, discuss and ask questions about math.  It hits upon the mathematical practices standard MP1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. MP7: Look for and make sense of structure and a whole bunch of Speaking and Listening standards.

If you'd like to try Number Talks, you can get these addition cards here



Karla

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