making number talks matter – post #2

Posted on: December 29th, 2015 by jnovakowski

Making Number Talks MatterAs outlined in my first post about the book Making Number Talks Matter, I am an advocate for the use of the routine or practice of Number Talks in classrooms to promote mathematical discourse, thinking, reasoning and justification. Over the last three years, I have “demo-ed” and been a part of number talks in many of our Richmond classrooms. I see number talks as a transformative practice that moves both teachers and students to experiencing mathematics in a way that focuses on thinking, learning and talking.

Most of the book can be previewed online on the Stenhouse website here. The table of contents outlines the chapters of the book. I appreciated how there were chapters that went deeply into the strategies and concepts involved with the four operations. Although the book is title for grades 4-10, for our BC Curriculum, the strategies and operations involved focus on grades 3-9. Much of the focus of the book though is on pedagogy and how formative assessment plays a role in planning and instruction and of course, those pieces are applicable to all teachers. Also, the big ideas of developing a mathematical community, creating an environment for rich mathematical discourse and the role of justification in mathematics are again applicable to all and I think any K-12 teacher would find gems in this book.

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As someone who is quite familiar with number talks, I appreciated being part of this online book study, facilitated by teaching laureates Kristen Gray and Crystal Morey from the Teaching Channel. Being a part of this community pushed my thinking, helped me see number talks in different ways and helped me to consider the classroom conditions necessary for success with number talks. I am looking forward to an opportunity to dive into an investigation with a class, inspired by Chapter 9 – going deeper with an idea, inspired by a student’s question such as “will this work for all numbers?”

For the final chapter of the book, one of the questions we were asked was: If not all students elect to participate in number talks, how/when do you check in to see what students know or how they process? This is an important question because during a short number talk, although you may provide opportunities for all children to share and talk (through partner talks), as the teacher you will not be able to hear all those conversations and generally, only a handful of students share to the whole group during a number talk. Two ways that I shared that I have found effective in checking in to see if students have an effective strategy and an understanding of the number concepts we are working on is to either use “math graffiti” or notebooking/journalling.

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As we came to the end of the book study, one of the questions asked of us was to consider our biggest takeaway…my response via twitter:

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This book has been recommended for purchase for all our schools in Richmond – ask your teacher-librarian if it is available yet at your school!


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