Have you ever witnessed kids accurately solving math problems but struggling to describe how they got to the solution? Or they simply know how to proceed with the question but are unable to apply their thoughts practically. Discussing, conversing, and sometimes applying math is indeed a challenge for many kids.
Math is an abstract subject that requires a flexible thought process and the ability to view things from different perspectives. Active manipulation and multiple trials lead to successfully solving math problems and reaching meaningful conclusions.
As an educator, you can encourage your students to actively engage in number talk and incorporate math conversations into their daily lives. It will make associating math concepts easy, and kids will be fluent in solving and describing math with ease.
In this post, we have added a comprehensive and systematic number talk lesson plan for elementary school kids to enhance their math skills and help them master math discussions. Before moving to the lesson plan, let’s see some benefits of number talk.
Why is number talk important?
A number talk is a conversation or discussion over numbers and mathematical elements to bring flexibility and open-mindedness in math thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving. Number talk is a crucial component of elementary school as it helps kids visualize and manipulate different math concepts and assists kids in applying those concepts in practical life.
Some key reasons that make number talk important are-
1. Improves math discussion and terminology
Number talk provides a better understanding of how to carry on math discussion and accurately present one’s findings and solutions. It also provides an opportunity to learn and understand the terminology significant to math. Kids can improve their math communication by using math terminology and discussions, resulting in a better understanding of mathematical concepts.
2. Build confidence
Sometimes, math can be challenging, and this can impact the confidence of kids. The large calculations and complex reasoning can perplex kids. Additionally, fear of math and self-doubts can add to the low confidence.
Number talk can help build confidence and prepare kids for advanced math by helping them overcome their fears and challenges. In other words, number talk helps kids assess things from their point of view and simplify them accordingly, resulting in enhanced confidence.
3. Supports solving and analyzing problems through multiple perspectives.
Plenty of views are presented during several talks, and multiple routes are discussed to reach the same conclusions. The same is the case with number talk. It enables kids to analyze math problems from multiple perspectives and understand how they can be solved and presented. It improves kids’ reasoning skills and helps them think outside their comfort zones.
4. Clear doubts through active discussions
Number talks can be easily converted into active discussions, a great way to clear doubts and strengthen math concepts for kids. Active math discussions can pave the path to easy understanding of confusing and challenging math concepts. Active discussions are also helpful in critically analyzing the concepts.
5. Promotes critical thinking
Number talk promotes brainstorming, logical analysis of concepts, associating one concept with another, making inferences, and so on. A number talk is a wonderful strategy to promote critical thinking in children and assist them in tackling math challenges logically and strategically.
Promoting number talk: A comprehensive lesson plan
The number talk lesson plan is a comprehensive lesson plan that will facilitate number or mathematical chats among students. It is a fun way to make math easy and applicable to real-life situations.
To help educators facilitate number talk in their classrooms, we have designed a systematic number talk lesson plan that begins with basics and goes all the way up to advanced number talk. The lesson is customizable and teachers can modify it based on their needs and student’s learning capabilities.
Number talk lesson plan for elementary school kids focuses on certain objectives. The objectives include-
- Number talk will help children be confident in solving math problems.
- Gradually speed up the math calculations
- Be more flexible in reaching mathematical solutions
The lesson plan begins with a warm-up activity that will make children comfortable with math talks and discussions, and it will be a wonderful activity for keeping their brains active and letting their thoughts flow. It is also a great substitute for ice-breaker activity and will give the way to more advanced-level math talks.
The lesson plan consists of strategies designed especially for elementary school kids to enhance critical thinking in developing kids. The strategies are-
It is a simple activity that is fun but also brain-stimulating. Educators encourage kids to come up with any number and write it in the middle of the sheet. Now, ask kids to write a few numbers around that middle number. Ensure the middle number is greater than the numbers surrounding it.
Now, kids need to use the numbers on the sheet to get the middle number. For instance, the middle number is 8. Numbers surrounding it are 2, 4, 5, 6, and 3. Here, adding 2 and 6 will get us our middle value.
Other arithmetic operations can be used to bring a challenging element to the activity, along with addition. For instance, adding 6 and 5 in the above example will give us 11. Now subtract 3 from 11, we will get 8.
It is a great activity to promote flexible thinking and encourage assessing things from multiple perspectives. While explaining their perspectives, kids will also learn how to conduct math discussions and report math findings using the right terminology.
In this strategy, a certain pair of numbers are given. Each pair involves three numbers; educators can use more than three numbers based on the understanding level of the student. Kids have to identify the odd one-out number from a given pair. There are no specific criteria for finding an odd one-out number from the pair, and there could be more than one answer.
As far as the kids can justify their logic behind the odd one-out number in the pair, every answer is welcomed and accepted. A simple activity that will fill the class with waves of ideas and help kids view the same thing from different angles and reach conclusions in different yet correct ways.
A simple and interesting activity that is suitable for any age group and is a perfect way to facilitate classroom math conversations. Educators need an image or a visual that can be discussed mathematically.
Present the image to the children, and educators have to put up the questions based on that image that can be answered mathematically. No specific mathematical concept has to be targeted in the activity; rather, the concepts that kids are aware of and are based on their curriculum matter can be used.
Additional activities to promote Number Talk
Some additional activities that can promote number talk in developing kids and help them master math conversations are-
1. Word problems
Word problems are a wonderful tool to improve number talks in the classroom. Educators can provide simple word problems or math manipulatives to kids that can be mentally solved and discussed in the classroom. Mentally solving the word problems will allow one to analyze the problem in multiple ways and reach a meaningful conclusion. Further, kids can discuss how they came to the conclusion and what method they applied to reach the conclusion in the classroom with their peers and educators.
2. Group discussions on numbers
Group discussions on numbers, such as composite numbers, divisibility rules, etc., and the different methods of calculating and studying these numbers or their uses in different areas are great ways to promote number talk in the classrooms. Educators can actively participate in these discussions with the children and direct the conversation on desired routes.
3. Multiplication by mental math
Multiplication by mental math or any other arithmetic operation using mental math is useful for facilitating number talk and improving calculation speed while solving math questions. For instance, multiply 320 by 8. Kids can directly solve it or break it into 300 and 20, multiply each by 8, and add both.
The results for both will be the same. Additionally, this can easily be solved mentally and discussed in the classroom. All kids require is logical thinking in math and a good command of arithmetic operations.
Number talk or math conversation is an essential part of elementary years and for the strong math foundations. It enables kids to independently work on the problems, assess and reassess different methods, and constantly improve themselves in mastering the basic number concepts.
The number talk lesson plan will help educators foster skills in kids necessary to discuss numbers and their operations successfully. The lesson plan is carefully drafted while considering the kids’ math level to strengthen their abilities and improve their weaknesses for effective number talks.
I am Sehjal Goel, a psychology student, and a writer. I am currently pursuing my Masters’s from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. Child psychology has always fascinated me and I have a deep interest in learning about disabilities in children and spreading awareness regarding the same. My other areas of interest are neuropsychology and cognitive psychology. Connect me on Linkedin