Numbered Heads Together

This cooperative listening and speaking strategy provides opportunities for practice, rehearsal, and repetition or discussion of unit content in a way that makes each individual and each group accountable for learning. Students work together in small group to answer (and discuss, when appropriate) questions posed by the teacher before being called on at random to share their answer in front of the class.


  1. The teacher first divides students into groups of four, and then assigns each member of the group a number. 

  2. The teacher gives a question or states a prompt to the class. Students in each group must work together and talk so that everyone in the group knows (and understands) the answer. All students are responsible for knowing how to answer the question.

  3. After students have finished talking about the question, the teacher calls out one of the numbers, and the student with that number from each group shares the group's answer to the question.

Helpful Tips

  1. To establish routines and use this activity in multiple lessons or units, the teacher may wish to assign standing groups for students to work in. This will allow students to transition into their assigned groups with less time wasted in transition. The group assignments can be changed (at the start of each unit, once per semester, etc.) depending on the frequency of use of the activity.

  2. There are several variations for how a teacher may call on students in this activity. The teacher may ask: 

    • one or more students to answer
    • all students with a specific assigned number to go to the board and write their answers
    • each student to whisper the answer to the teacher


  1. Teacher-generated questions or prompts

  2. Number cards (optional)