Math as a Social Activity
How to do a Number Talk?
The teacher will present a problem on the board. Students will be given thinking time to solve the problem mental. I typically introduce “Thinking Thumbs” and explain to the students that I do want them to rob their friends of their thinking by blurting out answers. Sherry Parrish feels that this strategy is better than having students raise their hands because she when several hands are in the air, students often stop thinking because they are used to teachers calling on the students with raised hands for the answer. When students are ready, they will indicate by holding up one thumb up to show they have a solution. If the students have more than one way to find the solution they will raise a finger by their thumb. When most students show that they have a solution (e.g., majority of thumbs are up) that is when I ask students to share their thinking. Try not to rush the thinking time as Parrish states “the aim is not to reward speed, but to focus on the thinking about mathematical relationships (Parrish, 2010, Number Talks, pg. 18).
Next I ask students to share their answers. I record all of these, even the incorrect answers. In Number Talks, we use incorrect answers to discover misconceptions students have. Next students are asked to communicate their thinking. What strategies did you use? The teacher will record what the students says and ask if anyone used a different strategy. The rest of the class is actively listening and thinking about the strategies being shared. They are considering and thinking about other students’ strategies and checking to see if they make sense. Through this, they are building their own repertoire of strategies. The teacher facilitates the discussion and is responsible for asking guiding questions, such as “How is this strategy similar or different to _______’s strategy?”, helping students to make connections.
Math Resources for Parents, Teachers and Students
Here are some websites with good math resources for aiding your young one in developing math fluency:
Money in the Bank
A math game involving addition, subtraction, and basic financial math skills for kids 8 and up!
Math iTools online Base 10 App
Here is a great online tool, which uses virtual manipulatives to show how to work with base 10 blocks This is a Flash Player app, so you will need to have Adobe Flash installed to use this software.