Using Number Talks and Number Sense Routines across K–6

Do you want to deepen your knowledge about number talks? Are you curious about the difference between a number talk, a dot card talk and a routine like ‘Which one doesn’t belong’? Do you want to learn more about what makes teaching routines effective so you can refine your practice? Well, there is a Becoming Mathematicians short course designed just for you!

Research evidence indicates that providing opportunities for students to share and justify their mathematical ideas and respond productively to the ideas of others, helps them to see themselves as, and to become, competent mathematicians (Kazemi & Hintz, 2014; Smith & Stein, 2011).

Using Number Talks and Number Sense Routines across K-6 delves into how different teaching routines in mathematics can be used well to support student learning. This course is designed to build upon and enrich existing teacher knowledge of various teaching routines of mathematics. 

Who this course is for

Participants may complete this professional learning individually or together as a team. Participants could include:

  • any teacher or leader interested in enhancing their understanding of some important big ideas in mathematics across K-6
  • Assistant Principals, Curriculum and Instruction (AP, C&Is)
  • specialist support teachers
  • graduate teachers with a specialisation in mathematics
  • Stage 4 teachers and leaders focussed on supporting the transition between Stage 3 and Stage 4.

Learning as a school team

Learning together is usually more impactful than learning alone, however, it’s not always possible for schools. Participants can be:

  • individual teachers who want to learn more about number talks and number sense routines

  • small teams from within a school

  • Assistant Principals, Curriculum and Instruction, Deputy Principals and Principals participating in the learning alongside teachers

  • whole school teams who learnt together, who may choose to use professional learning meetings and staff development days as time to come together to refine, affirm and deepen their understanding

  • teachers at different schools forming communities of learners, to participate together and share what they’re doing in their classrooms as a result

What you will learn about

Becoming Mathematicians: Using Number Talks and Number Sense Routines across K-6 aims to:

  • deepen teacher understanding in what makes a number talk a number talk

  • investigate other number sense routines that can be used to support student understanding in maths

  • explore how number talks and other number sense routines can be used in classrooms across K-6 and beyond

  • deepen understanding around dialogic practices in mathematics

  • support knowledge for teachers across the horizon of learning from K-6 and beyond.

Curriculum Reform and syllabus implementation

The NSW Curriculum Review identified the importance of teaching and learning focused on developing students’ deep understandings of important concepts and strategies (NESA, 2021)​. Number talks and other number sense routines have been shown to be powerful teaching routines we can use to achieve that goal. Additionally, this course offers school communities the opportunity to explore these routines which help promote reasoning, a proficiency which lies at the heart of the NSW Mathematics syllabuses and the Curriculum Reform agenda.

Course commitments

Becoming Mathematicians: Using Number Talks and Number Sense Routines across K-6 is an online course on Open Learning which teachers across NSW can access as best suits them. The course involves:

  • 5 self-paced course modules (approximately 90-120 minutes each)

  • opportunities to play with mathematics and discuss, reflect and respond to ideas throughout each module.

Release dates

Learning Availability, by Friday

Module 1: Number talks: What they are, why they are important and how to implement them

Term 1, Week 5

Module 2: Number sense routines to build mathematical understanding

After completion of module 1

Module 3: Dialogic practices: Making sense of mathematics through quality talk

After completion of module 2

Module 4: Dialogic practices: Making sense of mathematics through representations of student thinking

Term 1, Week 8 and after completion of module 3.

Module 5: Orchestrating productive discussions: Open strategy sharing to targeted discussion

Term 1, Week 8 and after completion of module 4

Participants may like to access this learning:

  • over a few days

  • by exploring a few of modules as part of a professional learning day.


Registration for Becoming Mathematicians: Using Number Talks & Number Sense Routines across K-6 is open for NSW Department of Education teachers and school leaders.

You will need to consider the time commitment and discuss this learning opportunity with your principal and get their approval to participate. There is no cost associated with this professional learning. However, if casual relief is used, that will need to be covered by the school.

Each person taking part in the learning must register. You can complete the registration individually or one colleague can register each participant in your school team. Allow up to 2 weeks to receive an email with access information for the professional learning.

Register now

If you are in a non-school based teaching (NSBT) role, please register using the K-6 Maths Strategy Professional Learning – NSBT form.

Who can I contact if I have questions?

Contact the NSW Maths Strategy Professional Learning team for further information.

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