Number Talks

Math Skills
Number Talks
Strategy: Math Calculation
Appropriate Grade Level: Elementary
Procedures/Steps: The main goal of NUMBER TALK is for students to
begin to make sense of numbers. Over time, students develop competence
in their problem solving skills and their computational fluency.
1. The teacher shows a flash card to students and asks them to share the
processes that they used to figure out “how many”
2. The students give a “thumbs up” when they know how many objects
are on the card
3. Then the students explain how they got their answer
4. These responses lead to the introduction of symbolic representation of
numbers, in which students or teacher record number combinations
that represent what they see
Comments and/or tips:
 Small groups of numbers can be used in a variety of models-such as
toothpicks, same-colored dots, and squares
 Number Talks can be held with a whole group, small homogeneous
groups, or heterogeneous groups.
 They should occur at least three times a week, for ten to twenty
minutes a session
 Teacher provides problems with varying degrees of difficulty to meet
a range of needs in the Number Talk group.
Postletwait, K.B., Adams, M.R., & Shih, J.C. (2003). Promoting meaningful
mastery of addition and subtraction. Teaching Children Mathematics,
9(6), 354-7.