Dot Number Talks

Dot Number Talks are often the ideal way to get a number talks routine up and running.

Run regularly over time, number talks can: 

‚ú® create habits of mathematical reasoning

✨ foster developing number sense, and 

✨ build mathematical confidence. 


Dot Number Talks in action

One of our favourite ways to engage in professional learning is to watch other¬†practitioners¬†in action ‚ÄĒ both to notice what pedagogical moves we like, and those we don't, and why.

As you watch each other these video clips, consider: 

1ÔłŹ‚É£ What do you notice that's interesting or surprising?

2ÔłŹ‚É£ What are you left wondering about?

3ÔłŹ‚É£ What would you do differently and why?¬†


Example 1: Whole Class Number Talk (Year 2)

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How to run a dot number talk

1. Select a dot formation to explore that feels like a good fit for participants. If you're starting out, you might like to brainstorm a few 'ways of seeing' on paper before running with a group. This will give a little experience of the recording component (see step 4).

2. Give think time while participants look at the dots and think about how many there are. Encourage self-extension during this time - if there's still time, look for another way to count the dots.

3. Collect answers. Invite the answers that people got. (This step is missing from the above video). There may be more than one answer. In fact, it's best to expect that there is - this helps to normalise mistakes as a curious and useful part of the sense-making process. Record the answers somewhere on the board. 

4. Invite solution paths.  Listen as a participant explains how they counted the dots. Record thinking on the board, both visually and as arithmetic. See video for example recordings. Ask if someone else solved it differently. Repeat the listening and recording process for them. Collect a few different strategies. 

5. Invite analysis of the solution paths collected.  You could ask: 

  • What do you notice or wonder about the solution paths?¬†or
  • Which too strategies are similar? How are they the same? How are they different?

NB: When starting out, with younger learners, it may be more appropriate to combine step 3 (collecting answers) with step 4 (inviting solution paths). Then build up to separating these steps, when appropriate, over time. 

Most of all... have fun!

Small group example 1

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A video of a small group number talk in action with three Foundation students.

< 3 minutes


Small group example 2

6 on a 10-frame

Another video of a small group number talk in action with three Foundation students.

< 3 minutes


Dot talks for all ages

This set of dot prompts has been designed for running Dot Number Talk prompts. Most of these are recommended for Year 2 and above. Access Dot Prompts here.

The Number Talks Network

The Number Talks Network is a community of educators developing, sharing and refining our number talks pedagogy and practice.

To know when the next¬†Number Talks Network event is on, consider joining Maths Play's fortnightly newsletter. This way you'll be the first to know when new events are scheduled. Sign up below! ūüďģ

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