My old math talks site needed to die. It was riddled with missing image icons and plagued by shitty formatting. I had to fix the main blog and do other things, so this could wait. Only 2 or 3 people in the universe were checking it out anyway.

Although traffic to math talks is low to nil, I’m really fond of it. It’s the most important one to me because it’s a collection of my students’ voices, their reasoning, their thinking, their growth —

So the old broken site betrayed how really proud I am of my kids and their mathematical sharing. I just built a new space for it — dot com and dot org were both taken, so I got

You see I wanted to write down what the kids were sharing during our number talks and pattern talks. To not write down what they say would be complete disrespect and pointless. I asked everyone in the class to do the same — we scribed to show respect to and to learn from one another.

Then I realized I couldn’t toss the papers that I’d written on into the recycling bin. Not until I recorded the notes somewhere — hence I started the blog for math talks.

Then as I was typing up what the kids had shared for pattern talks, I felt I needed to include a visual too to record their thinking because that was exactly what we did in class. They were circling this piece and that piece of the pattern; they were rearranging the pieces. I wanted to tell as complete a story as I could, so I did the only thing I knew — I drew on the pattern in Paint and attached it to every voice/thinking that described it. (Unfortunately I lost many of these images.)


This site — this small endeavor — was a personal need to record. I still see Daniel’s proud face as he tries to explain where “4n + 3” comes from. I still hear the excitement in Audrey’s voice as she shares a different way of seeing the pattern. I still hear kids comparing their algebraic expressions and arguing. I still see Blanca shaking her head, having a tough time seeing the general term. I choke up seeing how far Natalie has come along since we started math talks.

So selfishly this site was for me all along.

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  1. Posted September 9, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Now this is REAL math!
    It is a fairly short step to finding the “formula” for 1+2+3+ . . +n
    but since one of your students used the “Gauss” method, maybe they are there already.
    1 squared + 2 squared + 3 squared +4 squared + . . . + n squared lends itself to pictures, and although they may not come up with the explicit formula the recurrence relation is easier (I think we are calling these “recursively defined sequences nowadays”)

    • Fawn
      Posted September 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      I’m so proud of the progress my kids have made with the patterns!! They blow me away sometimes. Thanks for dropping in, Howard.

  2. Gaby
    Posted September 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for letting us know what the kids shared during your number talks and pattern talks. This allows me, as a teacher, to anticipate what students may say during the class session.

    • Fawn
      Posted September 12, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      That’s great to know, Gaby. Yay!

  3. Posted September 12, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Thanks for making all of those student explanations available and the extra work of reviving the site! I find it fascinating to look into other people’s train of reasoning. With my own kids, I ask them for alternative ways of thinking about a question or problem, but it becomes much more interesting to them when they know another student has proposed an answer or approach.

    Also, the “wrong” answers and resulting discussion are the most helpful.

    • Fawn
      Posted September 12, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      I am a big fan of wrong answers! Thanks, Joshua, for dropping in.

  4. Laurel
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I just found the old site a few weeks ago via a blog post by Curmudgeon, and I was really sad it had disappeared. I am so glad you revived it–I’m going to go enjoy it now!

  5. Helene
    Posted October 7, 2014 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    Just got to this post while I’m not sleeping ( a hotel where we are presenting tomorrow in a room that is too small for the number of Ts we are expecting). Anyway, reading your post is not helping me sleep. I find it interesting that while we are trying to focus on reducing talk (from Ts) in our classes (still a big step for some), you are, what seems like consumed, by not only just giving your Ss a voice but recording it in a very respectful manner. Keep up the great work.

    Helene @mmehmatte

  6. Mary Robinson
    Posted March 10, 2015 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Are you the creator of the math/logic puzzle called “Nora’s Ark”? The solution reads: 6 seals (6seals=3zebras). Please explain the solution. Thanks.

    • Fawn
      Posted March 14, 2015 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Hi Mary. I get a lot of credit for the Noah’s Ark problem. (I like it being “Nora’s Ark” too though.) But I didn’t create it, I got it from a math workshop eons ago. I did re-make the worksheet because the only copy I had was the one that I’d worked on and was never able to find the original creator. I will email you a solution to it.

  7. Andrew Miller
    Posted April 5, 2015 at 7:51 am | Permalink


    I haven’t visited the site for almost a year, so I am partly responsible for your “nil” monthly numbers. However, I find your site VERY valuable. I had copied most of the pattern problems, which is why I have not been back for awhile. I love the way you post the patterns of thought from different students. I project those in my classroom one at a time and have the kids try to derive the pattern that is based on the annotations. It is a great way to reinforce to the students that there is rarely a right WAY to do a problem, even if there is only one right ANSWER. I can’t count the number of times throughout the year I have said “What is math all about? That’s right, patterns!” This applies especially to the higher lever courses like calculus and pre-calculus.

  8. Suhana Kadoura
    Posted May 19, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I’ve been looking into number talks for my 7/8’s and stumbled across your blog Fawn :) Awesome.

    • Fawn
      Posted May 25, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Suhana. Please come again!

  9. Gabrielle
    Posted May 16, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Hi Fawn, I teach courses for UCR Extension and direct students to your resources (blog posts, math talks, etc) for several assignments. I want to make sure you’re okay with that. Thank you!

  10. Julie Heidingsfelder
    Posted July 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this Fawn! I plan to implement your warm up routine in the fall.
    One question about the the patter talks: do you hand out a copy of the pattern for students or just project it on the screen? Also, do you allow students to write when figuring out the pattern?
    I guess I had two questions…

  11. Martha
    Posted July 25, 2019 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    I have enjoyed reading your accounts. I keep seeing references to the Noahʻs Ark puzzle, but cannot seem to access it. Any suggestions on where I might find it?

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  • By 3-2-1 | Middlin Thru Math on September 7, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    […] Number talks – they are going ok, but not great.  Lucky for me Fawn blogged about how she does number talks this week and I may do some adjusting to […]

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