Saturday, February 11, 2012

Number Talk

How do you start off your math block?

I begin with Number Talk. According to Sherry Parrish's book, Number Talk is:
1. A five- to fifteen-minute classroom conversation around purposefully crafted computation problems that are solved mentally.
2. The best part of a teacher's day.

If you don't have access to the book, I found a brief overview of Number Talk.

During the last teacher work day, one of the teachers gave a workshop on Number Talk, which convinced me to implement this concept into student learning. I also observed this particular teacher doing Number Talk with her kindergarteners just this past week. I had watched some videos of other class's doing Number Talk but they didn't really speak to me. After watching this teacher at my school though, I had a much better direction on how to guide the Number Talk.

I have assigned each student a partner. One partner is peanut butter and the other partner is jelly (if we have an odd number of students due to an absence, I make one of the students a bun to a pb and j) . To signal the start of our Number Talk, I play It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time. When the students hear the song, they find their partner, find a spot to sit together in front of the SMART Board, and show me that they're ready to learn by sitting on their bottoms with their hands in their lap and their lips zipped. They LOVE the Peanut Butter Jelly Time song!

Next, I post a problem on the SMART Board and read it aloud. They think about the problem and then turn to their partner to share their answer and their thinking. When they're ready, they give me a thumbs up by their heart. I then call on individuals to share their answer with the whole class (sometimes I write the different answers on the SMART Board) and they explain their thinking (sometimes they show it on the SMART Board). Hearing their explanations is very interesting and telling!

Depending on the problem, I may have a demonstration. For instance, here is one of the problems (exemplar styled) we did this past week:

"Juliann has joined the circus as a tight rope walker! It takes Juliann 20 steps to walk across the tight rope. Miss Jaffee wants to learn how to walk across the tight rope too! Will it take Miss Jaffee more or less steps to cross the same distance? Why?"

I always use the students' names in the problems. They get a kick out of seeing their names and reading my silly stories. So for this particular problem, I had a piece of tape on the floor. After the students' shared their answers and thinking, Juliann and I demonstrated walking across the tape (our pretend tight rope) and compared our steps.

The mathematical thinking, problem-solving, and sharing that takes place during Number Talk is so beneficial for student growth. Yay for math!

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