Thursday, March 15, 2018

Math Talks are Awesome: Share Them!

So, I know I talk about math talks a lot, but there is good reason! They are such a versatile and accessible tool for promoting problem solving, discourse, precision, pattern-sniffing, and so much more.

As classes implement them more and more, they see the payoff in increase confidence and robust number sense. Many of my schools this year have asked me to help K-5 teachers get started using math/number talks in their classes, so I thought I would share my process for introducing them:
  1. I start with a rationale for math talks, which is tailored to the school's perceived need (often this is building number sense in students, increasing engagement, and/or facilitating discourse). 
  2. We experience 4 types of talks: Which One Doesn't Belong, Dot Talk, Number of the Day, and a computational number talk. I ask the participants to play the role of student and to suspend "teacher talk" until they have experienced the full routine. 
    • Along the way, the participants have a template they use to jot down what they notice about teacher moves and students moves, any questions they want to ask after we experience the talks, and connections they see to the SMPs.
    • After each talk we pause for them to think and ink, then we discuss noticings and wonderings they capture on their templates. 
  3. Once we complete the first 3 types, I introduce the full protocol and do a number talk, stressing that this type comes after a safe classroom environment and community has been established. 
  4. We pause for any additional noticings and wonderings and discuss, then they think-pair-share about these questions:
    - How might we use math talks to assist students in developing their understandings of the big
      ideas in our courses? How does this relate to number sense?
    - What are the big ideas in our courses that might lend themselves to math talks? 
  5. I introduce my resource list and invite participants to play around with the sites on it.
  6. Teams form to plan a math talk using this template. If there is time, I encourage them to practice with a partner or small group.
    • Follow up is key, so either by passing that off to a leader or coming back, I make sure to have sharing of the one they tried in their classes at the next gathering. 
Here is a link to my slides:

Here is a document where I am trying to compile websites that have "math talk-ish" prompts available:

What am I missing? Please comment and let's make these working documents work for us.


  1. Thanks, Lorraine! Both his Splat! and Cube Conversations is on the full list: Great stuff!

  2. Hi this website is a good one too..

  3. What about

    1. Thank you! Will add. I hadn't seen the wordpress site before!

    2. I like it for the quick images...I’ve used both the base 10 ones and the coloured tile ones... my students really enjoyed them!

      I forgot to share another print resource that our board shared with’s the link to just one of them but they’re all good:
      Cheers! And thanks for pulling these all together. I shared it with my colleagues and called it one-stop shopping for all your Math/Number Talk needs. So great!

    3. Yes! I think much of the number talk work is inspired by Fosnot, et. al. Thank you, I will add those!

  4. Great resource.... What about

    Or -


    1. Will do, thanks! SolveMe is at the bottom of the full document:

  5. #unitchats!

  6. Thought you might enjoy this too

  7. I found your this post while searching for information about blog-related research .. list of schools in north delhi. It's a good post .. keep posting and updating information.

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

  9. I have been an enthusiastic maths teacher for the last 18 years. I mainly teach English school pupils, focusing on the South African school syllabus.

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


We are not martyrs. We are not trees.

I've had some travels in my teaching journey. I began working at a school I had done some of my college observations hours in and was he...