Welcome to week 5 of our book study on Number Talks. This is a great book for K-5 classroom teachers, special educators and math specialists. It is also a great book for administrators and other educational professionals to read to learn more about what good math teaching looks like.
Join me each Sunday as we discuss the week's reading and make connections to our own teaching practice. Leave a comment on this blog post or head over to Facebook and leave your thoughts there. If you have your own blog and want to write a post about it on your own blog, just leave the link in the comments section.
Part 1: January 11th Chapters 1 & 2
Part 2: January 18th Chapter 3
Part 3: January 25th Chapter 4
Part 4: February 1st: Chapters 5 & 6
Part 5: February 8th: Chapters 7 & 8
Part 6: February 15th: Chapter 9
This week we transition from thinking about addition and subtraction to thinking about multiplication and division. If you thought addition and subtraction were a huge change in thinking for teachers, wait until you approach the idea of multiplication and division being done mentally with teachers and parents. Many adults do not even think doing multi-digit multiplication and division mentally is a possibility. There are so many people who learned the traditional algorithm as the one and only method for multiplying and dividing. Many people lack the conceptual understanding of these operations that is necessary for mental computation. But don't let that scare you off! Approaching multiplication and division in this way and having kids invent strategies to solve these type of problems really does work.
The Array Mode
If you have never used the array model for multiplication and division, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. There has been a ton of research done about how much the area model helps students and using it in number talks is a powerful tool. Just like recording addition and subtraction ideas on a number line, using the area or array model to record students' thinking about multiplication and division will provide a visual and help all your students connect the big ideas for these operations. We started using the area model 8 years ago in my school and what a huge difference it made! If you want to read more about this model and other amazing ideas for teaching multiplication and division I highly recommend Constructing Multiplication and Division. This book changed the way I think about teaching multiplication and has made such a difference in my school.
The Number Talks DVD
When watching the number talks on the DVD this week, I was struck by how powerful this DVD would be during professional development. The number talks on the DVD do such a great job of showing best practices, showing how to do a number talk and showing some of the big ideas of operations and properties. Even if you only have professional development time in small chunks like for an hour after-school, this DVD could be a great tool for getting the discussion about number talks going. Handing busy teachers a big book and telling them to read it means that many folks are not going to ever open it or learn more about it. Having the DVD really could show teachers the power of the number talk and increase their engagement and excitement about reading the book.
I love the focus on efficiency in these chapters about multiplication and division. It is so important for kids to develop efficient strategies for solving problems. It is great when kids develop new to them ideas about multiplication and division but it is our job as teachers to move them from less efficient strategies towards more efficient ones that will work for a variety of problems. I think number talks are such a powerful way to help kids make this transition. The suggestions about asking kids which strategy is most efficient are excellent and definitely something you will want to make sure you leave time for at the end of your number talk time.
What did you get out of this week's chapters? What have your experiences been using number talks for multiplication and division? Please respond in the comments below!