Number Talks: A Great Tool to Promote Number Sense in Young Mathematicians Why Are These Steps for the Teacher Important? To create a safe environment for learning, norms must be established and reviewed before a Number Talk begins in order to establish routines and promote a positive culture of learning. The goal of utilizing norms is to ensure that every student feels confident in their ability to share their thinking without any judgement from their teacher and peers. The additional steps are important because the steps define the role of the teacher as a facilitator. The teacher is responsible for pacing the number talk, allowing students adequate "think time", and clearly recording students' strategies so that other students can see and understand the thinking process of their peers. When these steps are in place, the routine becomes a structured process in which students can rely on the safety of norms and routines. Number Talks: Steps for the Students 1. Students think of ways to solve the problem. 2. Students use a hand signal to show they have an answer and a strategy to share. 3. Students share answers to the problem. 4. Students share their strategy to defend an answer. Why Are These Steps for the Students Important? During Number Talks, students take control of their own learning by articulating their computational strategies and reasoning through the strategies of their classmates. Because students are doing most of the talking, thinking, and demonstrating, protocols must be in place to ensure that the conversations are structured and purposeful. Using hand signals is one protocol that can be used to allow students opportunities to communicate their thinking. Number Talks: Hand Signal Protocol 1. Students place their fist on their chest during "think time" to show that they are thinking. 2. Students show one finger when they have one strategy to share. If/when students have additional strategies to share, students show the number of fingers that reflect the number of strategies they have to share. 3. Students use agree/disagree hand signals to communicate their thinking in response to other students' shared strategies. The process offers a great start to " our mathematician's workshop and Using hand signals is a discreet process that allows students the opportunity to think at their own pace and removes the pressure to rush their thinking if/when another student is ready with a solution. Using hand signals is an important step because it allows all students, particularly those students who might be shy, the opportunity to participate in Number Talks, communicate their thinking with their peers, and engage with their peers and the thinking shared by their peers. When protocols are in place that allow students to share their strategies verbally or use hand signals to communicate their thinking, all students have an opportunity to contribute to the conversations. How Do We Get Students Talking During Number Talks? In order for Number Talks to be successful, students must be able to communicate their thinking and collaborate with the other mathematicians in the classroom. If students struggle to express their thinking, here are some tips to try. Use "Turn and Talk" Assign Number Talks partners. Partner A explains his/her strategy to Partner B. Partner B responds with "I agree/ disagree because ..." Partners swap roles and repeat the process. Show an Example The teacher displays a strategy used by a previous student and asks, "Let's look at this strategy from a previous student. I don't remember his/her reasoning, I only remember what his/her work looked like. Can you determine what strategy this student used and share your thinking?" The students are given "individual think time" to consider the strategy and then the teacher solicits explanations from student volunteers. Provide Tools The teacher ensures that tools such as 120 Charts, counters, and base ten blocks are in close proximity in case students would like to use the tools to explain their thinking. Provide Sentence Stems The teacher provides sentence stems and/or sentence frames to encourage students to speak in complete sentences and use academic language to explain their thinking. Examples include: I think the answer is __ because __. I agree with __ because __. I disagree with __ because __. I like __'s strategy because __. Tomorrow I will try __'s strategy because __. encourages students to start thinking critically and communicate their thinking with others. 20 | Fall/Winter 2020 " Texas Mathematics Teacher

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