Number Talks – Online

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

You know I am a huge advocate of doing daily number talks. I have written several posts about this which I will link below.  But how can you conduct a number talk via Zoom or whatever platform you are using?  Here are some suggestions.

  1. Post a problem on your screen. Write it horizontally (so as not to immediately suggest it should be solved via the standard algorithm).
  2. Ask students to show a way they might solve the problem.  Using a marker (so the end product will show up when displayed), students work on their whiteboards or notebook paper tablet.
  3. Give a reasonable amount of time (depending on the grade level and the problem given).  Teacher can even play some soft background music to signal time to start working.
  4. Students signal with a thumbs up when they are done (on their screen or in the chat box).
  5. The teacher can interject he/ she would love for some of the students to share their thinking, so when they are done and waiting for the others, think mentally on how they might explain it.
  6. With a signal to end working time, students then hold up their whiteboards.
  7. The teacher can select some to share (or students can volunteer) showing the different strategies used.  The teacher can model the strategy on his/her screen as the student verbally describes it.
  8. Different strategies can be recorded on an anchor chart for future reference.

    Here are some links from my Number Talks posts.

Professional Development Opportunity

As you know, I have been working as an educational consultant the past five years — job-embedded professional development with elementary teachers regarding math and reading instructional strategies. With the COVID-19 nightmare, schools are closed in most locations. School administrators are hesitant to commit to job-embedded consultants right now because there are so many uncertainties.  However, if you as a teacher or parent are interested in private one-on-one online consultation visits with me, I am available to help you reach your instructional goals.  We will work out a plan that is easy on your budget and schedule. Contact me via the comment box with a brief request and I will email you privately.

What can we work on?

  • Reading strategies (phonemic awareness, phonics, cueing and prompts, comprehension, text structures, fluency . . .)
  • Math strategies (subitizing, number sense, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, place value, rounding, fractions, geometry, . . .)
  • Interpreting data
  • Writing and spelling
  • Other topics you don’t see here?  Just ask.

Tutoring Opportunities

If you know students who are in need of online tutoring (anywhere in the US at any grade level PreK-College), you are invited to refer them to Varsity Tutors using my name (Cindy Elkins).  It is a very reputable company that matches tutors with students in any subject or grade level.

If you are interested in becoming an online or in-person tutor yourself, you are also invited to contact Varsity Tutors. You would be an independent contractor who can set your own hours and accept only the students you feel comfortable working with. Payments are direct deposited twice a week. Give them my name please. Use this link:

Click on the badge icon with my photo on the right sidebar to check them out. Or the links above. On your phone app, the badge will be at the bottom.

**I do receive a bonus when my name is used as a referral. Thank you for your trust in me!

Stay safe everyone!  


Number Talks Part 3: Computational Strategies 3rd-5th grades

by Cindy Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

This is the Part 3 of Number Talks. If you are just tuning in, please refer to NT Parts 1 and 2. As I mentioned before, conducting a Number Talk session with your students is a chance for them to explain different ways to solve the same problem. This is meant to highlight strategies which have already been taught.

Click below to watch  2 videos of how to conduct a Number Talk session with intermediate students. You will see many strategies being used.

Number Talk 3rd grade 90-59 = ____

Number Talk 5th grade 12 x 15 = ___

Addition and Subtraction Strategies:  I like using the methods listed below before teaching the standard algorithm. This is because they build on a solid knowledge of place value (and number bonds 1-10). If your students are adding and subtracting using the standard algorithm and can’t adequately explain the meaning of the regrouping process in terms of place value, then try one of the following methods. In many cases, I will ask a student the meaning of the “1” that has been “carried” over in double-digit addition. About 85% of the time, the student cannot explain that the “1” represents a group of 10. When adding the tens’ column, they often forget they are adding groups of 10 and not single digits. So they get caught up in the steps and don’t always think about the magnitude of the number (which is part of number sense). You will notice teachers write the problems horizontally in order to elicit the most strategies possible.

  • Partial Sums
  • Place Value Decomposition
  • Expanded Notation
  • Compensation
  • Open Number Line (to add or subtract)

Here are some possible Number Talk problems and solutions:

Multiplication and Division Strategies: I like using these methods before teaching the standard algorithms. Again, they build a solid understanding of place value, the use of the distributive property, and how knowledge of doubling and halving increases the ability to compute problems mentally. Once these methods have been learned, then it is easy to explain the steps in the standard algorithm.

  • Repeated Addition
  • Area Model
  • Partial Products
  • Distributive Property
  • Doubling and Halving
  • Partial Quotients

Here are some possible Number Talk problems and solutions:

Enjoy your Number Talks!!


Number Talks Part 1: Subitizing and Number Bonds KG-1st grade

By Cindy Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

A Number Talk is an opportunity to review number sense and operations by making it part of your daily math routine — so that what has previously been taught is not easily forgotten.

In this post I will expand on 2 methods for conducting a Number Talk session for KG-1st grade students (Subitizing and Number Bonds). Refer to a previous post (Sept. 10 – Daily Practice to Build Number Sense), in which I mentioned several other ways to review math concepts on a daily basis such as calendar topics, weather graphs, counting # of days of school, using a 100 chart, Choose 3 Ways, etc. Continue reading

Daily Math Meeting Part 1: Ways to Build Number Sense K-5

To build number sense, students need frequent exposure or review of concepts you have previously introduced. There are many ways to build number sense on an on-going, informal basis – especially when you can squeeze in 10-15 minutes daily:daily-practice

  • During morning meeting time
  • During a Number Talks session
  • At the beginning of your math lesson
  • At the end of your math lesson
  • End of day closure time

I have included several of my power point slides on this topic as a PDF file (daily-practice-to-build-number-sense-pdf). Continue reading

Subitizing – What does that mean?

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady (updated post on 8-12-17)

The term “subitize” means to recognize quantity without counting. It is a concept recently added to the new OAS (Oklahoma Academic Standards). KG students should be able to “recognize without counting the quantity of a small group of objects in organized and random arrangements up to 10.” For first graders, the quantity is increased to 20 of “structured arrangements.” Subitizing is an important pre-requisite skill to learning addition and subtraction number combinations or number bonds.Subitize 4 (1)

Suggested items for the teacher to present this concept:

  • Dot cards
  • Ten frames and 2-color counters or tiles
  • Dot dice
  • Dominoes
  • Tally marks

Continue reading