I Have A Real Hard Time With Number Talks And I Need Help

I Have A Real Hard Time With Number Talks And I Need Help

That’s it.

Well it could be, but I’ll elaborate 🙂

So I really do like the concept of number talks. Using things like Fawn’s http://www.mathtalks.net/ and http://www.visualpatterns.org/. Using Sara’s Visual Pattern strategy. Doing dot talks and having the kids use a thumbs up and then additional fingers to indicate how many ways they can visualize or find the solution. I think it’s great and I want to do it all in my classes. But I just haven’t been able to get it to work. It’s always just like 10% of the class that is actually into it, others just putting a thumbs up so I can move on and then saying “I don’t know” when I ask them to share. These number talk days also take the longest out of all my warm ups, probably because I want to go farther into them than most students want to. And it kills me because we’d get great work done on the patterns or number talks, but really it would be me and a few other students and the others would just be checked out, waiting for me to finish so they could copy it down.

As I’m writing this, I am realizing Dylan just basically posted about the same thing, and he actually put out a possible solution. Thank you Dylan. The issue I see in my classes for Dylan’s method is that it just takes a lot of time. I no longer have the luxury of the 90 minute block. I have 50 minutes, and that’s not a lot of time. But it might be a good idea to try this with partner work for a little bit next semester. Maybe I can shave it to 1-2 minutes on your own, 1 minute partner share, 1-2 minutes full class discussion? Maybe I just stay satisfied with not getting to the formula in the warm up unless we fly through it.

I will say this, though: I have way more students engaged in the visual patterns than in the number talks, like which is greater out of 88 x 36 or 86 x 38. I think numbers just freak some kids out.

I really really really want to keep doing visual patterns at least in my warm ups, but I just don’t know if I can make it actually happen for all of my students. Any other helpful hints? Does anyone else have this experience?

Une note incohérente, mais j’ai besoin d’aide.

11 thoughts on “I Have A Real Hard Time With Number Talks And I Need Help

  1. I’ve had concerns about keeping 100% engagement in Number Talks, too. Keeping them short and allowing a pair share time seems to help. Another thought about “getting to the formula” or the right answer: consider a Number Talk formative assessment. It tells you what students can do, but doesn’t need to be considered instruction on strategies or formulas. It will be sometimes, but not always. Just my two cents. I think Number Talks and visual patterns are worth the time and I applaud your willingness to put this out there for feedback.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Saw a tweet from Dan and came over here. The level of interest of my warmups is like this: Numeracy Ninjas > Estimation180 > Which One Doesn’t Belong > Pattern Talks > Math/Number Talks. My students are 6th and 7th graders and they are mostly compliant. They know warmups dont count as part of their grade and I am grateful that they will still try their best (most of the time). I get 100% engagement when the task is PERCEIVED as easy and interesting. I give the kids about 3-5 minutes to write their thoughts (with special warm up paper provided) and then have them discuss in a group. Depending on the task, I usually would either pick 3-5 kids to talk about it. Or sometimes I would take pictures of some student work (my choice) and talk about them or use them to start a discussion. Math/Number talks get the least interest because the entry point is perceived as higher than other tasks. Maybe try a few WODB or some estimation style number talks to lower the entry point to get things going. Good luck! (And yes, warmups take about 15 mins of my class time, so I only do this 3 times a week.)


    • I love WODB and Estimation 180! I’d say my students’ interests levels mirror yours for warm ups except replace Numeracy Ninjas with Notice/Wonder using 101qs.com. What is Numeracy Ninjas???

      Thanks for the tips!


      • http://www.numeracyninjas.org

        This is free, developed by some nice people in the U.K. It’s basically a timed quiz of 30 DOK1 review type of questions (yes, timed tests are controversial…) and kids check their answers to decide which color of ninja belts they would get. Kids are competitive and for reasons I haven’t yet figured out, they really really love it. I do it once a week.


  3. Perhaps try easier questions to build confidence and increase engagement. I was supporting a few classrooms with number talks where the teachers had jumped to triple digit subtraction when there strategies were not solid with smaller numbers. Backing up helped bring the kiddos back in.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. If some students never participate, give them their words. It takes more time, but worth the effort. Hand out slips of paper with SOME response, i.e., “Can you say more about that?” “Please explain that with different words.” “I notice you only gave one example. Please give another” Don’t expect immediate engagement; it could take the rest of the year. For the truly reticent, post entry points and assign a student to point to one and another to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with all that is posted above and have used many of those strategies to increase engagement. Additionally, I would encourage you to use models to support the mathematical ideas students are presenting. These models will help other students in the class “see” the strategies others are using. Anticipating student responses ahead of time and pre-planning which model would best give access to the student’s understanding is crucial. I have found area models, number lines, number bonds, and tape diagrams to be very helpful. Also, these models are beneficial for encouraging students to endgame in discourse about others thinking. I wrote a blog about some of these ideas. http://wp.me/p6PnO4-c
    I hope it helps!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. One strategy i use is revoicing. For students who didnt have a strategy or couldn’t come up with a solution they may revoice (explain someone else’s work). I also keep track weekly of which strategies students are using on a check off form and students know my expectation is that everyone shares at least once a week ( i do count a revoice as participating). Revoicing helps students gain confidence and typically those students start utilizing the strategies they are revoicing.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s