Number Talks

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

Number talks build number flexibility and algebraic thinking. This short, daily routine will quickly turn into one of the bright spots of your math lesson and you and students work together to apply strategies and properties of operations to mental math problems.


If you'd like a quick refresher on what a number talk is, I'd highly recommend this video from Youcubed at Stanford University.


To help develop the use of number talks in elementary math classrooms, I've started my own set of videos and slide decks for teachers and students to use, either individually or as a class.


2 x 1 multiplication

The first set of number talks is built around using mental math to solve 2 x 1 multiplication problems. These number talks are primarily for grades 3 - 4 but would also be appropriate review material for older students.

  • TEKS 3.4G - use strategies and algorithms, including the standard algorithm, to multiply a two-digit number by a one-digit number. Strategies may include mental math, partial products, and the commutative, associative, and distributive properties

  • TEKS 4.4D - use strategies and algorithms, including the standard algorithm, to multiply up to a four-digit number by a one-digit number and to multiply a two-digit number by a two-digit number. Strategies may include mental math, partial products, and the commutative, associative, and distributive properties

As an educator, you can use these videos and resources in many different ways:

  1. Use the videos as a tutorial and use the slide decks to present the number talks yourself.

  2. Share the videos during your whole group lesson as a daily routine.

  3. Have students work through each video individually in centers.

To access the 2 x 1 multiplication number talks, you can either use this one-page Google Doc or my webpage. If you like them, please pass them along!


2 x 2 multiplication

The second set of number talks is built around using mental math to solve 2 x 2 multiplication problems. These number talks are primarily for grades 4 - 5 but would also be appropriate review material for older students.

  • TEKS 4.4D - use strategies and algorithms, including the standard algorithm, to multiply up to a four-digit number by a one-digit number and to multiply a two-digit number by a two-digit number. Strategies may include mental math, partial products, and the commutative, associative, and distributive properties

  • TEKS 5.3B - multiply with fluency a three-digit number by a two-digit number using the standard algorithm

As an educator, you can use these videos and resources in many different ways:

  1. Use the videos as a tutorial and use the slide decks to present the number talks yourself.

  2. Share the videos during your whole group lesson as a daily routine.

  3. Have students work through each video individually in centers.

To access the 2 x 2 multiplication number talks, you can either use this one-page Google Doc or my webpage. If you like them, please pass them along!

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