Thursday, August 2, 2018

Number Talks as an Intervention Strategy

So, I haven't been a Math Coach for a long time hence the date of my last post is 2011!  In my absence, I had two wonderful babies and taught Grade 7.

However, this summer I had the wonderful opportunity to act as a Math Coach during the summer school program at one of the sites in the TDSB.  This site had 260+ students in Kindergarten to Grade 7.  As a Math Coach, I was there to support students by going into classrooms to co-plan/teach with teachers, model lessons/strategies, and/or work directly with students.  It was a challenging task because this type of work requires a relationship.  Other than two staff members, all the teachers were strangers to me.  And, this was not my regular school so all the students were strangers to me too!

After our initial planning session, I soon decided that Number Talks was going to be my strategy to intervene and fill in the gaps in our students' learning.  Many students were coming into the summer school program with computational fluency.  Also, while most students did have gaps in their learning, some did not.  I felt this strategy addressed all the learners in the room and built on their strengths.  

So, I went into classrooms with my dot patterns and class lists.  Here are some photos of what we did together:

Grade 5 class
Grade 4/5 Class

Grade 4 Class

Grade 3 Class
Grade 2/3 Class
Grade 2 Class

Grade 1/2 Class
Grade 1 Class

As you can see, a number talk with a simple dot pattern provided really valuable information to the teacher in the room as to what his/her students were able to do and what he/she needed to focus on during the 18 days of summer school (e.g., subitizing, orally explaining reasoning, counting, etc.).  The student work also provided the perfect vehicle for me to co-plan with each of these teachers about future lessons.

I happy to say that I was able to work with many of these classes on many more occasions and saw the growth in students' ability to reason, subitize, and articulate their thinking orally.  In my next post, I will share with you how I took these number talks and helped students make the connection between mental math and the traditional division algorithm in the Grade 4 and 5 classrooms.