Action Research @ Seacliff – Number Talks Strategy
All teachers have been involved in Action Research this semester. We have formed Professional Learning Teams (PLTs) to investigate a strategic component of our teaching pedagogy in Maths and Languages, with the intention of improving student learning outcomes.
Three of the groups are investigating the usefulness of a strategy known as ‘Number Talks’. Quite a number of our teachers have recently completed a 30 hour online course through Stanford University in California. The course was presented by Jo Boaler, an internationally prominent Mathematics Professor.
Professor Boaler challenges some of the more traditional and entrenched approaches to the teaching of Maths to primary aged children.
Her work is based on the premise that Maths is an open, visual and creative topic. Professor Boaler does not believe that Maths is simply a subject where answers are either right or wrong. In fact, she advocates that this type of thinking significantly turns students off Maths, a position that many students may never recover from.
The Number Talk strategy involves students being posed a problem that they solve mentally and when they have a response they simply place a thumb up, (no need for hands in the air). Once most students have a thumb up the teacher then asks individual students to voice their response and the strategy they used. The teacher then creates a visualization of the students thinking on the board; there is no focus on whether the answer is correct. This process is then repeated student by student. Unveiled is a broad range of different thinking strategies.
The students begin to see that there is more than 1 way to solve the problem. They might even see a strategy that is more cognitively efficient than the strategy they chose. The teacher then discusses with the class which strategies are more efficient and effective.
Teachers have been incorporating the Number Talks strategy in their Maths lessons and in Week 10 we shared our findings at our weekly staff meeting.
You might like to check out the You tube clip: Jo Boaler Why Number Talks