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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Number Talks Book Study: Part 6

Welcome to the conclusion of our Number Talks book study!  After learning about number talks several years ago and implementing them in my classroom, it is great to finally read the book and have some time to reflect on how number talks have changed the way I teach math.  If you missed some of the previous posts, you can catch up on them below.  

Posting Schedule
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

Today we will be looking at chapter 9 which wraps up some of the big ideas of number talks.

Getting Parents Involved

When I started making the transition from a teaching by telling model to a inquiry based constructivist approach, I had many parents balk and struggle to understand this "new math" their kids were learning.  I did a few things to help alleviate their fears but their is certainly more I could have done to help ease this transition for them.  If I were to do it all over again, I would do many of the things suggested in chapter 9.

- Host a school wide Family Math Night.  We have done this at my school since the very beginning and families love it.  We host it in the middle of winter when there is less going on and families are looking for something to do.  We have excellent attendance and it is such a fun night for families.  You can read more about our Family Math Night here.
- Host grade level math nights.  At our school this started with the Kindergarten teacher wanting to reach out to parents and grew up from there.  The way do it is to offer child care in the gym and bring the parents down to the classroom.  There we can take them through a number talk or let them experience some other aspect of what they might see in their students' math class.  We finish the night by bringing kids and parents back together to play some of the math games or center activities they have been working on in class.  These grade level math nights are certainly a huge commitment of time but they don't need to be done every year and offer huge rewards for the time invested.
- Get parents into the classroom!  The best way to get parents to see what their children are doing in math is to have them in the classroom for math time.  We have had parents make a weekly commitment in the past but are currently very short on classroom volunteers for math time.  This is definitely an area where my school could use some work.  If you have a good system for getting classroom volunteers in your school, I would love to hear more about it!

School Wide Number Talks

Watching the DVD let me see how powerful it is to have students in fourth or fifth grade who have had years of number talks under their belts.  The idea of number talks began in my school as a K-2 initiative and has since spread to grades 3 and 4.  Since we have had quite a bit of staff turn over in the 4-6 grade classrooms over the past 2 years, we still have more work to do incorporating number talks into upper elementary classrooms.  I really want my older students to have the same deep understanding of multiplication, division and fraction operations that they do of addition and subtraction.  I am planning on making number talk professional development a big part of the coaching part of my role in grades 4-6 next year once I know which teachers will be teaching math at those grade levels for the foreseeable future.  I am excited to have this DVD and the excellent number talks happening at the lower grade levels in my building to serve as models for good number talks.

Your Practice: A Closer Look

If you haven't had a chance to look at the reflection questions on page 333, make sure you make the time.  These 8 questions really helped me think about how number talks are going and what I need to do next.  I am going to wrap up this book study by asking you to think about reflection question #8: "Remember to start small in making shifts in your classroom practice related to number talks.  Write down one change you will make." 


  1. Our school has been talking about a math night for ar few years now. I definitely have a vision for it. Our parents deserve to be educated about how their kids are learning math.

  2. I have modeled several number talks in the K-5 classrooms I work in and have truly felt the magic of them! It is so empowering for the students to share their thinking strategies! What I have found is that the enthusiasm is contagious and the teachers can't wait to try them themselves! I then get to hear the stories of the awesome thinking the students are doing - many times flooring their teachers and going beyond any preconceived assumptions the teachers had about the abilities of their students....which leads to more number talks! It is SO powerful and infectious! I wish I could glimpse into the future to see my current younger elementary students doing number talks after years of doing them. So exciting! Thank you so much for introducing me to this incredible resource and leading our discussions. Truly invaluable!
    Ann Elise