Number Talks Extension

Last spring, as we were working through the following Number talk 72 – 38,  students offered the solutions of 46, 44, 56, 34 and after writing them down I turned around to face the class and was about to pose a question to the class when a student said, “I know what question you are going to ask.”

I gave the class a moment to think about what question or questions might I pose based on the solutions given by the class.

Students offered up the following questions:

“Is the answer reasonable?” and “Why might someone get the answer of 46?”

As I reflected on the day and in particular this number talk, I realized that it might be time to turn my facilitator role in Number Talks over to my grade two students.

When I brought the idea forward the next day, some my students were excited, some nervous and some scared. We talked about what it might look like for a peer to be the facilitator and that this opportunity was totally optional. We decided that once a week (usually Mondays) we would have a student facilitate the Number Talk and if you wanted to be the facilitator you needed to fill out the brief sign-up sheet to help ensure the number talk string was purposeful, answer any questions students may have and support them in any way.

Students wanted to sign up right away and others wanted to wait and see what the experience would be like after a few of their classmates facilitated number talks.


Here are some pictures of the first few Number Talks facilitated by students. Notice the student on the left using different colours as they facilitate. 

After the first couple number talks facilitated by students we decided as a class that students would facilitate the first question and I would facilitate the second. As students gain experience in facilitating, they may be able to do both questions in a reasonable amount of time (again we did not want to turn this Number Talk into a 30- or 35-minute routine).   

I asked the class why they might want to facilitate Number Talks and here are some of their responses:

“Because it is fun”

“I want to be a teacher”

“I want to model class strategies like you”

Students continued to sign up to facilitate number talks and were extra excited when it came to math on Monday’s. I was continuously blown away at the way my grade two students facilitated number talks. This would become even more evident when I was able to rewatch their number talks as I began to record them. Am I ever glad I did on the day I did because the first one was in something special.