Number Talks During Distance Learning

Thursday, July 9, 2020


I’m not sure about you all, but the end of last school year made my head spin. Frantically, we were pushed into distance learning. This summer, I’ve spent some time analyzing what worked and what I can improve on.  It seems like distance learning might be around for a while, so it was important for me to think about what I want my classroom procedures to look like regardless of the model of instruction. 

Quickly into distance learning, I realized, I had so many resources that were already able to easily be converted into our new normal. We always started our math block with number talks. This was a crucial part of our math routines because students were able to develop a strong foundation in number sense. In the early stages of distance learning, I made a promise to try to keep my routine as normal as I possibly could. Each day, students would ask about this routine. If I was absent, students would beg for me to leave instructions for a substitute. I’ve never had kids be so excited about a routine before! This excites me because number talks aren’t just a wonderful resource for learning about numbers and how they break down, but also a wonderful classroom management resource. I mean how often do kids ASK for a procedure that breaks down numbers?
In a typical classroom setting, I just display the slides as we go through. We discuss each computation and how we got the answer. The students love this time to share.  So Anna, how does that translate into the digital era we are in? The answer is easy! We schedule a morning meeting everyday through Google Meets or the platform your school allows. I will go into present mode and go through the slides the exact same way. The students are able to use the chat feature in order to respond to their question. At the beginning of the meeting I show students how to use the chat feature. We discuss that this feature is for our number talk conversations.  I encourage students to utilize the chat feature to discuss our number talks. 

During this challenging time, I was relieved that my students are still engaged in meaningful conversations about math and computation strategies. This gave me confidence that my students were still developing a deep understanding number sense even during this challenging time. Though so many things are unknown during this time, as educators, we know the best we can do is find a routine and stick to it.

I'm excited to share with you that these digital number talk lessons are now available in my TpT store for all grades K-5! They include everything you need to implement high quality number talks from a distance learning platform or in the classroom throughout the entire year. Click here to learn more about them (make sure to go to the custom categories tab to find your grade level). Samples are also included for you to give them a try!

In addition to my digital number talk resources, I have created several other digital friendly math and ela activities to use with my students. These can also be used remotely or as an assignment in the classroom.

Take care, friends! Thank you for making a difference every day!

For more quotes like this from Teaching with Haley O' Conner, click here (free).
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