Sharing Good Practice
REASONING TALKS PART 2: NUMBER TALKS IN
THE SECONDARY MATHEMATICS CLASSROOM
BY CORY A. BENNETT
about a problem/context. Do students
understand what matters and how
it matters? Or, students might be
asked to make meaning of a symbolic
representation. For example, when
examining a proportion, what do the
two ratios mean independently and
in relation to each other? Additionally,
students might be asked to make
connections between relationships.
An example of this might include
analysing what is similar or different
between a linear and non-linear
function that has the same coefficients
and y-intercepts. Other Reasoning
Talks might focus on generating a
possible solution pathway, focused
questions, or considering a counter
argument.
Tips for Implementation
N
umber Talks are short, yet
powerful learning moments
for
students
and
the
American United School of
Kuwait has been using this instructional
strategy to build students’ conceptual
understanding, technical language,
and reasoning about key mathematical
relationships. While Number Talks have
tremendous potential, implementing
Number Talks in secondary grades,
requires making adaptations as the
content becomes more advanced
and does not lend itself to simple
calculations or computations. This
second installment of a two-part article
(See Number Talks Focus on Reasoning
in the November-December issue
of Teach Middle East Magazine) will
briefly explore the nature and benefits
of Reasoning Talks, share ideas on how
to make adaptations, and some tips for
using Reasoning Talks when you first
begin.
Nature and Benefits of
Reasoning Talks
Most of the benefits of Number Talks—
which include such things as making
sense of mathematical contexts or
situations, recognising key elements in
relationships, learning to reason about
why these key elements matter, and
practicing how to listen to their fellow
students’ ideas as well as articulate
understandings in a clear and logical
manner—still happen by attending
to reasoning. Thus, Reasoning Talks,
might be a better way to describe the
nature of Number Talks in secondary
grades. The purpose of Reasoning
Talks is to leverage students’ ideas
and ways of thinking; it is not about
producing correct answers.
Making Adaptations
Reasoning Talks look slightly different
in secondary grades but they rely
on many of the same principles.
For example, a teacher might want
students to recognise what is important
Just as with Number Talks, Reasoning
Talks, aim to help students learn to
communicate ideas and attend to
critical aspects of the mathematics
they are learning. This means one of
the more critical roles of the teacher,
is keeping track of ideas in a central
place (like on the white board), helping
students attend to key aspects of their
thinking (they are not always aware
of the importance of their ideas),
helping them make connections
between their ideas and the ideas of
others, and probing thinking for clarity
and prec