All About Number Talks!

Oct 16, 2015

So you know you should be incorporating number talks into your classroom, but maybe you’re just not sure what they are all about and how to get started.  Well today’s blog will help give you the information you need to understand what number talks are all about!

What is a number talk?

Sherry D. Parrish says

“Simply defined, number talks are five- to fifteen-minute classroom conversations around purposefully crafted computation problems that are solved mentally.”

Check out Parrish’s article called, “Number Talks Build Numerical Reasoning” to learn more about number talks.

What is the difference between a number talk and a math talk?

Math talk is structured discourse about a math topic employed during the main daily math lesson.  Number talk is more of a structured mini-lesson that supports computational fluency which could be employed separate from the main daily math lesson and might not be connected to that lessons content.

Click HERE to see the full page comparison (source: Wisconsin Mathematics Council, Inc)

What should number talks look like? 

Click HERE to see the full page comparison (source: Wisconsin Mathematics Council, Inc)

What does a number talk look like being implemented in the classroom? 

How often should I do number talks? 

GOLD STANDARD: 5 days a week

SILVER STANDARD: 3 days a week

LESS than 3 days of week to allow for discourse is UNACCEPTABLE

Here are two books that are great resources to help you get started with implementing math talks and number talks into your classroom.

math talk book

By Char Forsten and Torri Richards


Using fanciful illustrations of nursery rhymes and thematic scenes, you will be able to: engage young children in fun but focused discussions; inspire them to create and share their own math stories; establish home-school connections so children can “talk math” with parents and siblings; differentiate instruction and scaffold content for diverse learners. The book includes 16 full-color illustrations; these plus 4 bonus pieces are also available as Web downloads. Sure to capture young imaginations!

By Sherry Parrish

Whether you want to implement number talks but are not sure how to begin or have experience but want more guidance in crafting unsure of purposeful problems, this dynamic multimedia resource will support you in building mental math and computational strategies. The author explains what a classroom number talk is; how to follow students’ thinking and pose the right questions to build understanding; how to prepare for and design purposeful number talks; and how to develop grade-level specific thinking strategies for the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Number Talks supports the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. It also includes an abundance of reference tables to help you quickly and easily locate strategies, number talks, and video clips. Includes a Facilitator’s Guide and DVD.

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