Saturday, September 3, 2011

Number Talks

I’ve had a quite a few people e-mail me about Number Talks. So I wanted to devote this post to how Number Talks operate in my classroom.
When my students first walk into the room they answer the Question of the Day, then immediately get to work on our daily story problem. After that the even numbered students play a math game with another even numbered student. The odd numbered students participate in Morning Reading. The each have a pocket filled with just right books for them. These books are separate from their Read to Self books. Then the next day we switch.

Around 8:30 we have Math Morning Meeting which includes Number Talks.
Here are the main resources I use for Number Talks.
Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies, Grades K-5It Makes Sense!: Using Ten-frames to Build Number Sense, Grades K-2

This part of Math Morning Meeting only takes about 10-15 minutes…and my students love it. The purpose of Number Talks is to get students to think about number…not in the addition or subtraction sense…but it the ability to take numbers apart, to know what “Five” or “Six” or “Ten” is. It’s the ability to connect what they know about one number to help them with another number.
Right now there are two main tools I use during Number Talks. Eventually I’ll add Ten Frames:
Dot Cards:
I made a set for 5-9. In the yellow basket are dot cards I made using paper plates and sticky dots. Regular dot cards are in the gift bag. I decided to make my own because I could create what my students needed to focus on.

How do I use them: I quickly flash a card or plate, then ask the students what they see.
One of our routines is when you think you know how many dots there are, put a quiet thumb up. I do this because once hands start flying in the air, a student who’s still thinking will probably stop.
When they all have their thumbs up I ask first: “How many did you see?”
I take and record ALL answers…even the misconceptions. If I hear a few students who say the same number back to back I’ve developed a signal…”Those of you that saw six too…give me a pinky up”.
Then I’ll call on students and ask them to tell me how they saw _____ (whatever the amount was). Below are examples of what they might say.

Sometimes I’ll ask the student who had a misconception if they still saw what they said at first. Their response is no…but then I’ll ask them to tell me how/why they decided to change what they saw. I want to make sure they see the number for themselves and not just because of what their classmate said.
The first day my students wanted to count all the dots individually…but I encouraged them to look for groups of dots. I’m only flashing the cards for 3-5 seconds. They are getting better and better at subtizing or seeing chunks of dots.
Click here to download your dot cards.

The students love using the Rekenreks. I’ll usually ask them to show me a particular number. On Thursday we worked on seven. Students pulled over beads on the top and bottom to show seven. Then we went around and the students told me how they made seven. Responses: “I have 4 on the top and 3 on the bottom.” “I have 6 on the top and 1 on the bottom.” As the students told me I  recorded all the different combinations. This will become our Anchor chart for seven.

Guess My Number
Every time I flip my chart over to Guess My Number…my students cheer with delight. This is such a simple and quick activity…but my students could play this for hours. They like the idea of guessing my number. 
The first week of school we worked with 1-10. Then I added 11-15. Next week I’ll add 16-20.
I’m sure everybody has played this game. I choose a number in my head then the students have to guess.
For example if I’m thinking of 10 and a student says is your number 7, I’ll say my number is more than seven. Then they have to tell me which numbers to cover up because they will be excluded from the guess.
So it really gets them thinking in terms of more than and less than…instead of just calling out random numbers. Each guess helps them narrow their focus.
See…. simple.
But your students can gain so much knowledge about number just from Number Talks alone. I hope this post helps and if you haven’t maybe you’ll try it in your classroom. If you are doing Number Talks how about leaving a comment about your routine.

If you click on the picture below you can see a video clip about Number Talks.


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This post is sooooo helpful!!!

  2. Hi,
    I love these books too! I've created smartboard lessons based on Number Talks. If you are interested in using any of the documents I have created, feel free to go to my blog to download them. I'm still working on downloading the K lessons and soon to download the Grade 1-2 lessons for direct instruction.

  3. I love the guess my number activity and you show how simple it is to put together.

  4. I have those books ~ they're amazing ~ and I do exactly the same routines. I like your colourful dot plates. Mine aren't quite as pretty :) Thanks for sharing.

    Grade ONEderful

  5. Your ideas are awesome! Thanks for sharing!

    Kim @ SaylorsLog

  6. Thank you for sharing your dot cards! We focus on number recognition the first month, so those will come in handy. I have the patterns to make the dot plates, but the cards are a great addition!


    First Grade Garden <-- new blog! :)

  7. Thank you for the really great ideas!

  8. This post was very helpful!! I really like the idea of dot cards. Thank you!

  9. My Number Talks book arrived yesterday. Thanks for the wonderful ideas.You are awesome. I can't wait to get my firsties started on "number talks"

  10. Thank you for the big dot cards. I found some other dot cards but they were pretty small. I tried them with my students but I wasn't consistent. I will try again so my students won't miss out on learning.:)

    Kinders on the Block

  11. Our county is training us and bought us Number Talks! We just got our rekenreks and kp ten frame tiles! I love my dot cards. I made two sets. One for introducing each year and another just for practice. Then I use first grade cards to practice addition skills! It's great!

  12. I have just finished reading the book, Number Talks. It was great and I have abetter understanding of what number talks are and how to make them work in my room. I love the dot cards you made! Thank you so much for sharing!!
    What I Learned in Kindergarten

  13. I love your Number Talks and I found you through google searching "ENVISION math ideas" for my 1st graders. I can't wait to use your dot flash cards to help my students remember certain numbers.

    I am your newest follower!

    -Lovely Nina

    Lovely Little Learners

  14. Thank you for posting specific examples of things the kids might say. This helps me know what to expect. I'm still learning how to effectively use the Rekenrek tool and believe it or not, I hadn't thought of using the top AND bottom racks to help students see sets of numbers to put together. Thank you for the insights and helping ME to have a better number sense!

  15. I know this if off topic but I'm looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is required to get set up? I'm assuming having a
    blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I'm not very web savvy so I'm not 100% positive. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Appreciate it
    Also visit my blog - binary option

  16. It's amazing to pay a visit this website and reading the views of all colleagues about this article, while I am also keen of getting familiarity.
    Visit my web blog - legit ways to make money online

  17. I absolutely love your blog.. Great colors & theme.
    Did you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply
    back as I'm looking to create my own personal site and would love to learn where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Thanks!
    Also visit my page free work from Home opportunities

  18. You are so cool! I do not believe I've truly read through something like that before. So nice to discover someone with a few original thoughts on this subject. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is something that's needed on the internet, someone with some originality!
    Here is my webpage : Extra money

  19. Great goods from you, man. I've understand your stuff previous to and you are simply too wonderful. I actually like what you've bought right here, certainly like what you are saying and the
    best way in which you assert it. You make it enjoyable and you continue to take care
    of to keep it smart. I cant wait to learn much more from you.
    This is actually a terrific site.
    Take a look at my blog ; fda electronic cigarettes

  20. It's the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I want to suggest you some interesting things or advice. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to read more things about it!
    My site - weekend cash loans

  21. Hi there I am so grateful I found your blog,
    I really found you by accident, while I was browsing on Yahoo
    for something else, Regardless I am here now and would
    just like to say many thanks for a fantastic post and a all round exciting blog (I
    also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it
    all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added in
    your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to
    read a great deal more, Please do keep up the awesome
    My weblog : ways to quit

  22. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your efforts
    and I am waiting for your next write ups thank you once again.
    Here is my web site

  23. I'm impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that's equally educative and engaging, and let me
    tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I found this during my search for something regarding this.
    My site ; electronic cigarettes

  24. certainly like your web-site but you need to take a look
    at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them
    are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very troublesome to inform the
    truth then again I will definitely come again again.
    Feel free to visit my web blog : earn online money

  25. This is the right website for anyone who wishes to find out about this
    topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you
    (not that I really will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject that
    has been written about for ages. Excellent stuff, just excellent!
    My web site: real ways to make money online

  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  28. We absolutely love your blog and find most of your post's to be just what I'm looking for.
    Do you offer guest writers to write content to suit your needs?
    I wouldn't mind composing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write about here. Again, awesome web log!
    Here is my blog post :: play online for money

  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  30. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  31. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  32. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  34. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  35. Thanks for sharing these great dot cards and all the other ideas:-)


Kind words are appreciated here.