What is a number talk?
Article: Number Talks Overview & Teacher Role
This summary sheet outlines what a number talk is and gives an overview of the routine along with a description of the teacher's role during a number talk.
Video Ruth Parker & Cathy Humphries--Making Number Talks Matter
Meet the authors of Making Number Talks Matter as they discuss the power of number talks.
- Book Study Resources for Making Number Talks Matter
- Videos of Number Talks
- Resources for Classroom Implementation of Number Talks
- Research Supporting Number Talks
- Related Resources
- Study Guide
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 8
- Chapter 9
- Chapter 10
This NCTM Teaching Children Mathematics article by Sherry Parrish, the author of the book Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies, Grades K-5, includes part of a transcript from a multiplication number talk and describes the key components for successful number talks.
This article from NCTM’s Teaching Children Mathematics outlines 13 “rules” that elementary students are often taught that do not hold true mathematically, such as “subtraction and division make numbers smaller” (½ ÷ ¼ = 2, and 2 is greater than 1/2).
When you have time, but little energy, this 1-hour video of Sherry Parrish, respected author of Number Talks, might be just the thing as she talks about how to strengthen students’ accuracy, efficiency and flexibility with mental math and computation strategies.
Video: Number Talks - Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies
Teacher testimonies to the power of number talks in helping students develop number sense.
This article by the Cathy Humphries and Ruth Parker, authors of Making Number Talks Matter, supports the reading from the first two chapters of the book.
Kristin Gray reflects on a list of “stages of math reasoning” that might offer teachers some ideas about how to help students “construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others” (SMP 3).
Three separate articles from Scholastic list mental strategies that use reasoning for addition/subtraction and multiplication/division with whole numbers and calls out strategies that aren’t appropriate for the numbers at hand with whole numbers, decimals, and fractions.
Just like it sounds, this article from Math Perspectives offers tips for successful number talks in the primary classroom.
This article from Math Perspectives offers tips for successful number talks in the intermediate classroom.
This sheet summarizes the principles outlined in Chapter 3 of Making Number Talks Matter.
Without describing specific student responses, Shelly Craig reflects briefly on three Number Talks, explaining why she selected subtraction problems and the general ups and downs of the sessions.
Often student misconceptions arise during Number Talks, and addressing those mistakes in a positive, safe way for the student can be challenging. Crystal Morey, a middle school teacher, shares what happened in her class and debriefs with Ruth Parker, co-author of Making Number Talks Matter.
The San Francisco Unified School District offers a set of questions grouped by the Standards for Mathematical Practice to stimulate classroom discourse.
Use this guide to review Danielson components 2a Creating an environment of respect and 2b Establishing a culture of learning as you think about what effective teaching looks like in these areas.
This 3-minute video describes the important elements for a culture of learning in a mathematics classroom.
Georgia K-5 Mathematics Support offers this clear, well-organized at-a-glance sheet of addition and subtraction strategies that are supported by Number Talks.
Marilyn Burns talks about the usefulness of the open number line as a subtraction model.
Fifth grade math specialist Kristin Gray reflects on a Number Talk and shares how she used a talk to dig deeper into students’ understanding and extend their thinking.
Elementary math specialist Carrie Forsthoffer describes a subtraction Number Talk with fourth graders (247-98), including how she got into hot water and how she found her way back out.
Georgia K-5 Mathematics Support offers this clear, well-organized at-a-glance sheet of multiplication and division strategies that are supported by Number Talks.
Need a little review on the five properties of multiplication (commutative, associative, distributive, zero, and identity)? This PowerPoint presentation (source unknown) will walk you through each quickly and easily to bring you back up to speed.
This article from Stanford professor Jo Boaler's youcubed.com site shares research-based evidence on the best ways to learn math facts. It’s a great article to read and discuss during a PLC.
This video of Jo Boaler explaining research evidence on developing fluency pairs well with her “Fluency without Fear” article. Watch at least the first 7.5 minutes with your team for some great food for thought.
Henry County Schools in Georgia make available a series of Power Points for elementary teachers to use with addition and subtraction Number Talks.
This page outlines a variety of addition and subtraction strategies to draw out during number talks with examples for each.
Need a little review on the three properties of addition (commutative, associative, and identity)? This PowerPoint presentation will walk you through each quickly and easily to bring you back up to speed.
Fifth grade teacher Anne Walker describes several fraction addition Number Talks she conducted with her class.
This booklet from the UK for teachers helping students understand the concept of fractions suggests teaching approaches and would fit nicely into PLC teamwork thinking about the teaching of fractions.
Teachers of grades 3-7 seeking better understanding of the CCSS-M are given guidance in this lengthy paper. Rather than reading the full article, consider using this document as a reference when planning for specific fraction-related standards, either independently or in a PLC.
One of the challenges of doing Number Talks is fostering student-to-student communication. This page shares a variety of tips and resources from Shametria L. Routt, including posters to hang in your classroom.
Actionable tips help teachers create a learning community that fosters mathematical discussions among students in their classrooms.
This two-minute K-5 video from the Teaching Channel highlights the use of silent signals to maintain student engagement, several of which might be helpful during number talks.
Several helpful talk moves to increase student engagement during number talks are modeled in this two-minute Teaching Channel video, including repeating, adding on, and revising. While a fourth grade classroom is featured, the moves are appropriate K-12.
Protocols for Video Viewing
The following protocols can be used with any number talk video.
This protocol helps teachers identify the presence or absence of the number talk routines outlined in Chapter 2 of Making Number Talks Matter by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker.
Connecting to the number talk planner in Appendix A of Making Number Talks Matter by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker, this protocol encourage teachers to consider the questions and recording strategies modeled in the video.
This chart lists the guiding principles of number talks as defined in Chapter 3 of Making Number Talks Matter by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker to allow viewers to record teacher moves aligned with each principle.
- First Grade
- Second Grade
- Third Grade
- Fourth Grade
- Middle School
- High School
This set of dot cards is ready to use for Number Talks.
This series of tips includes suggested Number Talks to do with each grade level.
This set of Smart Board Resources for Number Talks is ready-to-use for grades K-5.
Based on the book Number Talks by Sherry Parrish, this document from shares an overview of number talks before launching into lists of strings for a variety of computational strategies and models appropriate for kindergarten.
Based on the book Number Talks by Sherry Parrish, this document from shares an overview of number talks before launching into lists of strings for a variety of computational strategies and models appropriate for first grade.
Based on the book Number Talks by Sherry Parrish, this document from shares an overview of number talks before launching into lists of strings for a variety of computational strategies and models appropriate for second grade.
Henry County Schools in Georgia make available a series of Power Points for intermediate teachers to use with Number Talks, along with a suggested order for presentation.
Based on the book Number Talks by Sherry Parrish, this document from shares an overview of number talks before launching into lists of strings for a variety of computational strategies and models appropriate for grades 3-5.
This site, hosted by middle school teacher Fawn Nguyen, shares number talks used with middle school students, along with examples of student responses and a page with suggestions for giving number talks in the middle school classroom.
If you’re seeking research to support the use of number talks in elementary classrooms, this masters research paper describes the effects of number talks on fourth grade students’ mental math computation abilities.
Conducted as a masters project in Eastern Washington, this paper outlines the impact of number talks on first grade students’ number sense.
This article emphasizes the importance of having a variety of strategies to be fluent with mental computation.
This 42 minute webinar from Georgia K-5 Mathematics Support gives an introduction to Number Talks geared toward K-HS teachers.