Woodland Primary Students Talk about Numbers

Ohio’s New Learning Standards for Mathematics call for students to be problem solvers. One way teachers at Woodland are answer this call is by teaching their students to be independent problem solvers through the use of Number Talks. This teaching resource was chosen because many teachers recognize the need for all students to be fluent with math strategies, they also recognize that not every child thinks about math in the same way. Teachers are responding to the different mathematical needs of the students in the classroom by implementing this resource to aid in student growth.

Number Talks is a 5 to 15 minute problem solving lesson that helps students make sense of mathematics, develop efficient computation strategies, communicate mathematically and provides opportunities for students to reason and prove solutions. Mental math is a key part of number talks because it encourages students to build on number connections to solve problems instead of relying on memorized procedures. One of the purposes of a number talk is for the students to focus on number connections and use these connections to solve problems. Communication is also a key component. Throughout a number talk students may be asked to share their strategies and respond to other students’ strategies as well. This communication is an important way to establish productive conversation around mathematics.

Students use dot images, rekenreks, five and ten frames and strategies for solving to build their knowledge of how numbers work together. Each year these strategies build on each other in order to help the students develop mental computation skills. Questions such as, “How did you solve that” and “Can this problem be solved a different way?” help students communicate their mathematical thinking. This allows the teacher to understand how the students are making sense of mathematics and offer support as needed.

It is so exciting to hear students talk about their thinking and to learn from each other. Through the use of these standards based, problem solving strategies, teachers are fostering little mathematicians at Woodland.