This morning I checked out the "youcubed" site to see what had been uploaded recently. On the teachers' page, the first video/article is about number talks. Since I plan to start the year with these, I've been reading as much as possible on the topic. I took part in Jo Boaler's course, How to Learn Math last summer and was overwhelmed with making connections to advanced algebra 2 (a new/different curriculum for me). Now that I have experienced the curriculum and the "typical" student, I am ready to infuse the course with more numeracy activities for sure!
What caught my eye on this site was in the "comments" section of this first article. Someone shared a site new to me on "Number Strings." I read Building Powerful Numeracy for Middle and High School Students this summer so I was somewhat familiar with the idea of a number string. This new site on strings is an excellent resource. Number strings start with a helper problem - a basic problem in which students share their answer and explain their strategy. Typically in a string there are additional problems related to the original helper problem. It might look like this:
3 is 100% of what number?
3 is 50% of what number?
6 is 50% of what number?
3 is 25% of what number?
6 is 25% of what number?
3 is 10% of what number?
6 is 20% of what number?
3.8 is 10% of what number?
This string is longer than some. It is inspired from a multiple choice test question: 3.84 is 12% of what number? The choices of answers included: 0.03125, 3.125, 32, or 46.08. In the discussion online, a teacher remarked that she didn't want her students to use a calculator or set up an equation. Instead she wanted to prepare them to answer the test question by working on number strings.
I know I want to work on fraction and decimal skills with my students. I'm debating about whether to start number talks with whole numbers. I'm guessing that my 9th and 10th graders have never participated in a number talk ... unless they have participated in our Texas UIL number sense competition training.
Where do I begin? Will it be OK to jump in with fractions - or will that stymie conversation too much? Thoughts?