The Writing on the Wall

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One thing I absolutely love is in the middle of an assessment, a student will raise their hand and say, “You forgot to take the charts down.” I respond with a bright smile and whisper, “I know, it’s okay.” A feeling of joy wells up inside of me because its conformation they are using the anchor charts.

If you walk into my classroom the only manufactured posters you’ll find are the one required by administration to post. All other writing on the wall is student thinking from…wait for it…this school year! If you’ve never heard of anchor charts, a brief definition is chart paper housing and displaying the thoughts and strategies of students. Often times, like mine, the charts are created by the teacher, but should ultimately be created by students.

Whether it is after a number talk or during the closing of my lesson, I snap a picture of the thinking and transfer it to an anchor chart and literally hang it up in the classroom. Students are able to view the charts from their seats or walk up to the chart to review and make sense of what they see.

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Numbertalks session

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Numbertalks Anchor Chart

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Anchor Charts

Aspirations for Number Talks

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If you haven’t heard of number talks by now, it may be safe to say you have been a bit disconnected from the math world. Five to fifteen minutes is all it takes to encourage math discussions among students, get an idea of the strategies your students possess, capture student thinking for everyone to see and/or reinforce ideas which may not fit into your current unit of study.

At the elementary level, I’ve seen the tremendous effect number talks can have on students’ thinking, math language and strategy use. Just listen to these second graders discuss how they would make 24 from the given numbers 2nd graders making 24. This language and thinking was developed during daily number talks. Because I am an elementary teacher at heart I never thought about number talks in middle school.

That was until I accepted a position as a 7th grade math teacher for the 2014-2015 school year. As I dreamed about all of the things I would implement next year, number talks was high on my list. Thinking of how crazy it may seem having my students ponder about numbers, putting thumbs to chests and sharing strategies would be in a 7th grade classroom, those thoughts were silenced by a document shared by @ddmeyer on Twitter. Oakland Instructional Toolkit for Mathematics

From this document came my aspirations for number talks. Here’s what I envision; review many 6th grade concepts through number talks. This Summer I’ll review the 6th grade units as aligned by the GaDOE. Using each units concepts and standards, I’ll create number strings in which I will use on the days I don’t use Estimation 180. To capture student thinking, my goal is to snap a picture of the recordings and upload them into an Evernote notebook dedicated to Number talks. This will allow for the information to be accessed from wherever Internet is available.

Goal number 1: Implement Number Talks