What are Number Talks?
Number Talks are ‘pencil-free’ discussions with pupils in which they are encouraged to explain the way they saw or calculated something they are shown.
There are two main types. Hover to the right to see examples.
What Happens in a Number Talk?
There are six components:
Key Features of Successful Number Talks
1. Nothing is written down initially. It may be that in type 2, once the methods have been discussed, that children are able to show them using whiteboards, but that should never be an initial step.
2. As Alex Box says, Number Talks should be seen as a ‘safe space for normalising mistakes’
3. Number Talks are never about the answer. The focus should always be on the ‘how did you do it?‘.
4. Time is important. Not everyone thinks at the same speed, and faster is not always better. Children must be given enough time to think about the problem before anyone is asked to contribute.
5. At least 3 children should be asked for their input. This helps them to see that maths can be something they do, not just something that is done to them.
6. Number Talks are never about the answer. The focus should always be on the ‘how’.
What are the Benefits? Number Talks allow children to:
How to get started? Here are a few sample starter prompts to try.
How many dots to you see?
How did you count them?
Can you find the number of dots? Did you use addition or subtraction?