If there was only one new thing that I could implement this year in my classroom, it would be the use of Number Talks. Luckily, I was introduced to Number Talks by our intervention teacher last year. We team taught math and she introduced me to Number Talks. I have continued using them in my math instruction. This fall, I also signed up for a professional development class based on Number Talks.
The book Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies, by Sherry Parrish, is a phenomenal resource to the elementary school classroom. The concept is to promote mathematical conversations in the classroom while building mental math concepts.
Last year, as I mentioned, I began implementing these Number Talks on a weekly basis. I instantly saw improvement in my students' abilities to discuss their strategies, as well as seeing confidence with sharing their answers. Number Talks are supposed to provide students with a safe atmosphere for sharing their thoughts. I found that when provided with this environment they quickly began to engage in the lesson. Thus, creating an exciting discussion about mathematical concepts. The students show that they know the answer by a thumbs up by their chest. Then putting fingers out to show that they can explain the strategy that they used. This allows the teacher to see who is ready to share, but allowing the students to not have to respond if they don't feel ready to do so.
This year, I began implementing Number Talks three times a week, as our daily math warm-up. I am LOVING using these three times a week. I am noticing a HUGE improvement in my students' abilities to think about multiplication and division. The way that the book is set up, is that it provides you with a series of related problems. You simply write one on a board/chart paper/Smartboard, at a time. Each problem builds upon the prior. Students have the opportunity to solve and share their thinking for each problem. Students can comment on each others answers and agree or disagree. They are able to learn from their peers errors and understandings.
If you are looking for a way to promote discussion and mental math, within your classroom, look into Number Talks! I would highly recommend it!
I plan on posting some videos in the next few months. Stay tuned!