Number Talks: Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages: A Multimedia Professional Learning Resource


Number Talks \ˈnəm-bər\ \ˈtōks\

1. A five- to fifteen-minute classroom conversation around purposefully crafted problems that are solved mentally.

2. The best part of a teacher’s day. This dynamic multimedia resource was created in response to the requests of teachers—those who want to implement number talks but are unsure of how to begin and those with experience who want more guidance in crafting purposeful problems. It supports teachers in understanding:

  • what a classroom number talk is;
  • how to follow students’ thinking and pose the right questions to build understanding;
  • how to prepare for and design purposeful number talks; and
  • how to develop fractional reasoning and strategies for operating with fractions, decimals, and percentages.


Number Talks supports the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.



To purchase the reproducibles of the area, set, and linear models referenced in Number Talks: Fractions. Decimals, and Percentages, visit

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sarah parish

Sherry Parrish is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, and began her career in education in 1979. She currently serves as an Assistant Professor for The University of Alabama at Birmingham where she teaches math and education courses for the College of Arts and Sciences. Sherry holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Samford University, is a national board certified teacher, and is a recipient of the 1997 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching.

ann dominick Ann Dominick received her undergraduate degree in education from Auburn University, a Master’s in Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a doctorate from Vanderbilt University, and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Curriculum and Instruction at Harvard University. She was awarded the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Elementary Mathematics and is a former Alabama State Teacher of the Year. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham teaching mathematics and education courses and preparing undergraduates to be secondary mathematics and science teachers.

In this essential resource Sherry and Ann tackle one of the most important content areas in all of school mathematics—fractions. Building on the proven effectiveness of number talks, they show teachers a clear picture of what classrooms can look like and offer concrete steps to stimulate the kind of rich discourse that helps students make sense of numbers, gain confidence, and develop the critical skills they need for the future.

— Cathy L. Seeley, NCTM Past President, Author of Faster Isn’t Smarter and Smarter Than We Think, and Educational Speaker

Number Talks: Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages
is a welcomed resource for upper elementary and middle school teachers. The research data is convincing and the examples shed light on a topic that has challenged every teacher I know, including myself. The many figures give clear, conceptual information about the various strate-gies used for computing fractions and how they relate to whole number operations. We finally have a resource that helps educators and students remember not only how to divide fractions but also what it actually means to divide fractions and why we get a bigger answer than we started with.

— Lucy West, educator; author; and founder and CEO, Metamorphosis Teaching Learning Communities

Like its predecessor, this one’s a winner. Number Talks: Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages builds on and extends the well-respected success of Number Talks: Whole Number Computation. It fully addresses fractions, decimals, and percentages with a particular focus on addressing challenges related to reasoning, multiple interpreta-tions, and multiple representations. It engages teachers; the videos and talks become a personal professional development opportunity.

— Francis (Skip) Fennell, L. Stanley Bowlsbey Professor of Education and Graduate and Professional Studies Emeritus; Project Director, Elementary Mathematics Specialists and Teacher Leaders Project, McDaniel College; Past President, NCTM; and Past President, AMTE

Number Talks has created a positive, exciting, and refreshing culture around math-ematics at our school. Through the talks, students challenge themselves in a nurtur-ing and supportive environment; the strategies they discover give them confidence to tackle more complex problems.

— Michele Lenertz, Principal, Washington Elementary, Riverside, California

In Number Talks, the messages being communicated to students are that flexibility is valued, every person can contribute, and we learn from each other by communicating clearly. Because these messages are embedded in rich conversations about computa-tion and properties of numbers—in short sessions of time, no less—the talks become the perfect venues for coaching and learning together with colleagues.

— Justin Johns, mathematics coach, American Embassy School, New Delhi, India

Number Talks is a great resource to help students think, reason, and build confidence in their mathematical thinking. The best part is that students want to share their ideas during a number talk. Every morning in my class, I have one or two students enthu-siastically ask, “When are we doing number talks?” That’s how I know this resource is so powerful.

— Nanette Shonwise, Numeracy Facilitator, Sudbury Catholic District School Board, Ontario, Canada

Number Talks: Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages provides our teachers with in-depth knowledge and learning as they collaborate and plan for increasingly high and rigorous standards for our students. The Number Talks series has been an essential part of our math program for more than five years. Ten minutes a day has had a powerful impact on learning—students and staff love number talks!

—Denise Meister, Principal, Worsham Elementary, Aldine, Texas

In our classes where number talks have been happening regularly, we have seen shifts in student voice and communication in math. Teachers are empowered and more confident with their mathematical modeling; as a school, our mistakes are valued and our collective strategies are growing.

—Kim Bentley and Sarah Fleming, teachers, International School of Bangkok, Thailand

Since implementing number talks at our school, there has been a tangible “buzz.” Our teachers have fully supported this initiative and have reported that student understanding and enthusiasm have grown exponentially. Number talks are a favorite part of math workshop—students will even remind teachers when it’s time for them!

— Allison Ziemer, Junior School Vice Principal, United World College of South East Asia, Dover Campus, Singapore

Parrish’s first book, Number Talks: Whole Number Computation, popularized the very concept and approach of number talks with a primary focus on whole num-bers in grades K–5. This second resource in the series tackles the much more intricate realm of fractions, decimals, and percentages. It extends what students have hopefully experienced previously to these far more complex and often seri-ously confusing topics that build on whole number fluency and understanding to rational numbers.

—Steve Leinwand, American Institutes for Research

Number Talks is a rich professional learning resource that stands out because it is also a practical manual for day-to-day lessons. When we began implement-ing number talks using this resource, there was an immediate and visible impact on student engagement and learning. The energy and excitement in the class-rooms are palpable for students and teachers alike!

—Carol Little, math coordinator, The American School of Doha, Qatar

pdf icon List of Video Clips

pdf icon How to Use This Resource

pdf icon Table of Contents

pdf icon Foreword by Steve Leinwand

Video Clips

The online video clips provide a visual platform for teachers to reflect on their current practices and target essential understandings from their readings. The video clips feature number talks filmed in actual classrooms grades 3–6. Clips range from one to ten minutes in length with a total viewing time of approximately two hours. The resource includes reference tables to help you quickly and easily locate the video clips by chapter and grade level.

Reproducibles (Sold Separately)

Number Talks Reproducibles: Area, Set, and Linear Models includes more than 150 pages of user friendly, reproducible area, set, and linear models from Chapters 4, 6, 7, and 8 of Number Talks: Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages. 

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