Planning: You’ll need to think about where you will conduct the number talk, how you will record student thinking, whether you want to record on paper or on a white board. You’ll want to record on paper if your purpose to save the student thinking for reference. For example, if you are trying to get students to count on to subtract, having a reference chart will be helpful for students outside of number talks. When they can see that Oscar counted on by 100, then 20, then 3 to find the difference 464-342, they may try this as they are solving problems elsewhere in math block. On the other hand, if you are planning a number string, you could record student thinking on a whiteboard, then take a picture of it before you erase it.
When planning for number talks, you must start with your purpose. Is there a skill you want your students to try out? The books “Number Talks” by Sherry Parrish, and “Making Number Talks Matter” by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker have number talks sorted or grouped by strategies. For example, if you want students to thinking about counting on in subtraction, you will find many suggested strings or problems to try. This will give you an idea of the types of problems that will work well for eliciting specific student thinking so you can create your own, too. Establish the purpose for the number talks as you plan, then look for talks that will support your purpose. The embedded purpose will always be there: To give your students and opportunity to practice and develop flexibility, fluency and accuracy in their computations.