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Home » Blog » Math » Setup & Routines » New Routines for Number Talks and Math Chats

New Routines for Number Talks and Math Chats

Math, Setup & Routines

Written by: Angie Olson

Number talks, math chats, solve and share. No matter what you call it, this small part of daily math instruction can make a huge difference in students’ critical thinking, communication skills, and overall math comprehension. Keep reading to find out some new ideas for your number talk routines as well as some tips about how to incorporate them into your math block.

Here at Lucky Little Learners, we like to refer to Number Talks as “Math Chats”. Our Lucky to Learn Math Curriculum for 2nd grade incorporates math chat routines into every lesson. The routines we follow are described in this post.


Why Are Math Chats Important?

Setting Math Chat Expectations

Math Chat Routines

Why Are Math Chats Important?

It’s essential to give our students time to talk about math. There’s a lot of learning going on when our kids are talking about math! During math chats, students can work through problem-solving strategies at their own pace. Students can communicate their critical thinking skills and apply their knowledge to solve a problem. By sharing with a partner, teacher, or whole class, students can model their thinking process as to how they arrived at the answer. The beauty of math is that there are several ways and strategies to arrive at the correct answer. By sharing their thought process with the class, students can model a strategy for their peers that they may not have thought of yet!

Sharing successes and difficulties during a math chat shows students that math isn’t “scary.” It’s an accessible set of skills and strategies that they will continue to build on throughout their school career. If we can talk about it, we can solve it! Creating a fun, positive, engaging, collaborative mindset around math is what math chats are all about!

Setting Math Chat Expectations

math chat hand signals and expectations
Download these charts HERE

Before teaching any new skill, it is important to set expectations. There are 5 expectations in a Lucky to Learn Math Chat:

  1. Be respectful – Treat everyone in our classroom with respect, including yourself! All answers are valid and we all learn from mistakes.
  2. Thinking Time – When a problem is shown, we won’t call out or talk about it yet. We will use silent thinking time to try and solve the problem on our own.
  3. Try your best – Use quiet thinking time to try your best and solve the problem. Do not give up! Our goal is to learn and grow!
  4. Strategies – When you think of a way to solve the problem, give a thumbs-up at your chest. Keep thinking of new strategies and raise more fingers for more strategies. (Check out all the hand signals to show your thinking here!)
  5. Let’s chat! – Once we have had plenty of silent thinking time, we will share our strategies with the class and justify our thinking. All answers are shared and talked about because we all learn from mistakes (even teachers!).

Math Chat Routines

math chat routines for 20 different addition and subtraction lessons for 2nd grade
Download these Math Chat routines for basic addition and subtraction (Included in the teaching slides for each lesson.)

Here are our 5 favorite routines to get students thinking and talking about math. The beautiful thing is, once kids are familiar with these routines, you can use them to practice any math concept!

Routine #1: Mystery Number

Clues are given and students have to figure out the number that is missing.

mystery number math chat routine
Download this math chat routine here

Routine #2: True or False

Students will decide if the equation given is true or false.

true or false math chat routine
Download this math chat routine here

Routine #3: Word problem

Students will work out word problems.

word problem math chat routine
Download this math chat routine here

Routine #4: Think about it

Students will solve thought-provoking math problems.

think about it math chat routine
Download this math chat routine here

Routine #5: Math is fun!

Students will solve challenging math problems in a fun way.

make my number math chat routine
Download this math chat routine here

Sample Math Chat Routine: Lucky to Learn Math, Lesson 1

Now that you have a better understanding of why math chats are important, let’s talk about how to implement them in the classroom! We have a step-by-step walkthrough of the first unit you can check out here and here!

The math chat in each lesson has this logo:

Look for this logo to get started with math chat! Each math chat can be downloaded as a slide to project on your smart board, or printed to share with the class.

Unit 1, Lesson 1 Math Chat: Mystery Number

In this math chat, students will determine the covered up number on a 120 chart.

Supplies: Lesson math slides, poster paper or white board, markers

mystery number math chat routine
Download teaching slides for this math chat here

Follow these steps:

  1. Ask students to tell you what number is covered up.
  2. Write down every answer given and have students explain their thinking.

After the math chat, students will dive into the mini lesson of the day. You can learn more about the mini lesson portion of Lucky to Learn Math here.

Math Chat routines can make a big difference in your math block! Still have questions about how to use math chats in the classroom? Ask them in the comments below, and let’s get chatting!


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Hey there!  I’m Angie, owner of Lucky Little Learners. Our #1 goal is to support K-2 teachers.  We provide unlimited access to over 15,000 printables that are aligned to your standards.