The Greater Birmingham Mathematics Partnership is a UAB research and professional development organization founded to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics in the Birmingham area. The professional development model includes Summer Mathematics Content Courses for teachers and in school support during the academic year of the Number Talks teaching method. A grant of $20,000 covered materials for teachers and provided partial support for the teacher facilitating Number Talks at local Birmingham City School, Charles Brown Elementary. During the school year, students in every 2nd through 4th grade classroom received instruction using Number Talks three days each week. Research data was collected and analyzed for this new teaching method. The results showed that students performed at a considerably higher rate on their standardized tests than students at a comparison school.
Number Talks is a brief classroom conversation in which the teacher poses a short series of problems and students solve the problems mentally, share and explain their solutions, defend their thinking and analyze the reasoning of other students. Number Talks provides an opportunity for students to create methods for solving problems that make sense to them while also getting feedback from their peers on the strength of their methods and deepening their understanding of mathematics in which multiple paths can lead to the same, correct answer.