Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mentor Monday - Number Talks

During a summer Math Institute I was introduced to the teacher's resource, Number Talks. It is a method used to get students to talk through their mathematical strategies. Questions such as 19+24 are posted on the board. Students try and solve it on a white board or paper. When they do, they hold a thumbs up against their chest to show they are done.

Now, if they can explain the strategy in one way, they hold up one finger along with the thumb. If they can explain two ways, they hold up two fingers and so on. This takes the stress away from those students who take a little longer to answer, or get frustrated and stop when they see all their friends already with answers.

The teacher's role is strictly as facilitator. This is the hardest part! You listen to the students as they explain their thinking to solve the problem. You then write or represent their explanations onto the board. Some may pull the numbers out into expanded form:

10 +9  and 20+4

Then add the two tens and the two ones and solve that way. 

Or they might want to make 'friendly numbers' by taking one from the 24 and giving it to the 19. 


Some  may want to use a number line and use 'chunks' of numbers to find the answer. The teacher interprets their explanations into visual representations on the board or a chart. Then leaving the chart up for awhile so that the students can reference it during the next Number Talk.

I'm finding it a bit difficult with this new method in deciding what to do when the student's method is incorrect, or they have difficulty explaining where they get their numbers from. I want to lead them down the correct path, but I have to hold myself back. It's interesting though to hear them talk through their strategies. I'm learning so much math right along with them. It's definitely going to be an interesting journey since math is not my best subject!

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