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Number Talks



 Presentation on implementing

Number Talks in K-5 classrooms






Number Talks

book by Sherry Parrish

Available for purchase at

Math Solutions and other locations 


Introductory clip

from Math Solutions



Number Talks

example in Kindergarten



 Number Talks

example in 3rd grade 



Number Talks to

build math reasoning 


NT1stNumber Talks

example in 1st Grade



Number Talks 

example in 5th Grade





Helpful Hints for Implementing Number Talks

Ruth Parker and Cathy Young


  • Do number talks every day but only for 10 minutes. A few minutes more often is better than a lot of minutes infrequently.
  • Ask questions such as:
    • How did you think about that?
    • How did you figure it out?
    • What did you do next?
    • Why did you do that? Tell me more.
    • Who would like to share their thinking?
    • Did someone solve it a different way?
    • Who else used this strategy to solve the problem?
    • What strategies do you see being used?
    • Which strategies seem to be efficient, quick, simple?
    • What similarities do you see between _(student’s name)_ and _(student’s name)_ strategies?
  • Experiment with using the overhead, whiteboard, document camera, chart paper, etc.
  • Consider having students “circle up” in chairs or on the floor for discussion.
  • Give yourself time to learn how to: 
  • Record student solutions
  • Listen to and observe students
  • Collect notes about student strategies and understanding
  • To help determine what numbers or problems you select and use what you learn from previous number talks as well as the focus of your daily classroom instruction.
  • Do number talks with yourself and others to try new strategies and increase your own confidence.
  • Name/label the strategies that emerge from your students:
    • Use doubles
    • Break apart numbers
    • Make it simpler
    • Use landmark numbers (25, 50, 75, 200, etc.)
    • Use a model to help
    • Use what you already know
    • Make a "10"
    • Start with 10s
    • Think about multiples
    • Think about money
    • Counting on
    • Traditional algorithm
  • Use related problems: 3 x 14, 3 x 114, 3 x 1104, 7 + 8, 27 + 8, 107 + 8, or 3 x 6 x 7.
  • Do number talks in small groups.
  • Ask students to “Do as much of the problem as you can.”
  • Give students lots of practice with the same kind of problems.
  • Use numbers for subtraction and addition that require student work past 10 or 100 such as 87-9 OR 94+8 OR 106-8.
  • Give students opportunities to add and subtract 9, then 8, etc. using 10 as a friendly number to work with such as 68 + 10 = 78 so 68 + 9 = 77.
  • Expect students to think about numbers, not count on their fingers.
  • Give students larger numbers so they can give estimates.
  • When using chart paper, write down the student’s name next to their solution. Keep track of who is participating and their strategies. After a few weeks of referring to the strategy by the students name transfer the title to a strategy name. Such as “Break Apart” or “Making Landmark Numbers”.
  • Create a safe environment. When children feel safe, they are comfortable sharing answers even when it’s different from everyone else’s.
  • Provide concrete models (snap cube “trains”, base 10 blocks, money, etc.).
  • Give opportunities for children to “think first” and then check with the models.
  • Have students occasionally record their thinking and the steps they use to solve a problem.
  • Encourage self-correction; it’s okay to change your mind, analyze your mistake, and try again.
  • Provide number stories.
  • Be curious; avoid making assumptions.
  • Give number talks time to become part of your classroom culture. Expect to follow the usual learning curve stages. “Keep on keeping on” and you will get positive results!







Presentation given by

Sherry Parrish


NumberTalks MathPerspective 

Number Talks information

from Math Perspectives



 Get2MathK-5 website



Presentation on Math Talks

given at NCTM conference