Daily Math Talks You Will Actually Stick With

We didn’t learn this last year!”


I don’t know about you, but I am getting a little tired of this quote. If you are too, I’ll bet you can’t wait to read about my amazing collaborative daily math talk solution.

Check out this collaborative daily math talk routine that you will actually stick with in your junior grade classroom.

But first a quick story
(before i get into Daily Math Talk):

Number talks

Years ago (when I was young and impressionable), the math specialist in my school board came in and showed my kiddos (and me) how to do number talk in the classroom. If you are not familiar with number talk, it is a very formal way to get students to talk about strategies for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing numbers mentally.

There are many benefits to this process and so for a while followed the routine daily. Then as things got busy, I followed the routine weekly and then monthly. The key words here being, “for a while”. Each year I would start with the intention of keeping this going everyday, just to lose momentum early in the year.

wHY? BECAUSE number talks are BORING
… sad but true!

But Don’t worry, this story does have a happy ending.

Fast forward to Summer a few years ago (not so young anymore), while trying to relax, I kept thinking about that yearly quote from above. Students are not remembering the concepts taught year after year. That got me thinking, how can I incorporate the positive outcomes of a number talk but make it something that me and my students actually want to do???

Right then and there, I began planning a daily math talk program that my students and I would actually want to stick with (bye bye relaxing summer :).

What makes my Daily math talk routine worth sticking to? 

 1. It is only 15 minutes max

We are all so busy. We have HUGE to do lists and what we need to complete in the classroom each day is never ending. I am sure that daily math talks could go on longer, but to make sure we can fit this in each day, I make sure it follows this time limit.

  • 5 – 6 minutes to solve (depending on the question) 
  • 4 minutes to have one student explain at the board (they love this part) 
  • 2-3 minutes for debate if needed
The benefits of daily math talks.

2. computation and problem solving

I specifically choose a mixture of procedural fluency (facts and skills) and problems, giving students the skills they need long before the actual unit begins. This allowed me to dive into problems faster. Think of the time that will be saved when you don’t have to spend a week reviewing old concepts that students potentially haven’t looked at for a year! This right here is motivation to continue all year.

3. SPIRALLING CONCEPTS that meet all expectations

I made prompts for each day that align with the expectations in the New Ontario Math Curriculum. Having the document pre-made means that I ensure that my students have been exposed to all of the expectations throughout the year, in a spiral format. When skills have been reviewed all year, students are less likely to forget them!

The benefits of daily math talks for the New Ontario Math Curriculum.

4. Formative assessment

Since this is all about the students, their discussions and explanations, this is a great time for some anecdotal note taking. I take notes about math understanding and reasoning skills, but also about learning skills – participation/ initiative in sharing, respect for other learners, responsibility of doing the work, etc.

5. Collaboration

The students love the less formal and more collaborative nature. I found that number talk was not an enjoyable time for my students. Useful of course, but not fun. By adding collaborative discussion, students actually want to do math talk. They enjoy getting out of their seats, crowding around each other and feeling successful when they can engage in a conversation about the topic. 

The benefits of daily math talks for collaboration in the junior grade classroom.

Students also LOVE taking turns sharing their solution on the white board. Everyone throws their hands up to be the one that is chosen. What is the fascination of writing on the whiteboard? Apparently that board and marker are magical. I use this to my advantage to increase engagement further.

With daily math talk in your classroom, students will learn from each other, debate with each other and explain to each other; all while deepening their understanding of the topic further.

get started with Daily math talks for free!

With so many student and teacher benefits, and of course the fact that students actually want to have this time, I highly encourage finding a way to incorporate math talk into your daily math routine this school year!

your first 3 weeks planned

This sample and yearly product is currently available for the grade 5 new Ontario Math curriculum and the grade 6 new Ontario Math curriculum. Get your daily math talk prompts for the first 3 weeks of the school year by clicking on the grade levels above.

Stacey is 1 Passionate Teacher
Math talk prompts for Grade 5 and 6 of the new Ontario Math Curriculum for the entire school year.
Have a collaborative math talk routine in your junior grade classroom. Grade 5 Ontario Math.

Including a collaborative math talk routine is rule # 5 of my 5 junior grade math rules! Check out the other 4 here!

1 Passionate Teacher's math rules for the junior grade classroom