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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 38- Fun findings

We are studying story elements this week- retelling stories using different strategies. One of the blogs that I follow is Ladybug's Teacher Files, and she has created some really cute posters that she is willing to share!


What I love most about her posters is that they are stories within themselves! Check out the Character page- we can talk about the different stories from the poster, identify and read the stories, compare and contrast, retell them, etc. Fun stuff!And, since she has over 1,000 followers, you know she's doing something good!

I can't wait to print these out and use them as a reference!

In Literacy Center news, I have brilliant students. The Vocabulary center has been changed from garden words, to ocean words. They tie into our social studies lessons with habitats, landforms, and continents.

The hard workers were from Team 2 today.

 Along with the Read! Build! Write! mats and cards, I also pulled all the ocean books from our classroom library to add into the center tubs. When students finish with their work, they can reinforce their vocabulary by finding the words in the books.

The other team to be pictures today is Team 1 who had the Spelling Texters. They practiced their spelling words first, then they were able to read-and-write the room. Again, the science and social studies vocabulary board was the most popular.

Yesterday I mentioned our need to have a structured math talk today about fact families. I can honestly say we gave it our best effort! I began by showing the students an example of part-part-whole. (Thank you, Ms. Beckett for sharing your idea!)
A fact family has three numbers- the two smaller numbers, and the big number it makes when put together. When adding, you join the two "parts". When subtracting, you start with the "whole" and take a "part" away. My students understood the illustration, so I moved forward.

I used 15 unifix cubes in my number sentence. I had two students come up and POP the cubes apart to get our two "part" numbers. We already knew the "whole" number was 15. Once we had our two "part" numbers (9,6), we could start our Math 4-Square chart!

The math 4-square is really just an informal way to check for student understanding. Students have to verbally express their knowledge in 4 ways: numbers, pictures, story, and another representation (which can be money, tallies, words, or a fact from the fact family)

This is how our chart came to be:

Numbers: We wrote an addition number sentence to match our unifix cubes. The students popped off 9 on one side, and 6 on the other, the total was 15. When we put the two parts together, we had 9+6=15. We did not write the turn around fact in this box because we were only looking for one representation. The time for another representation is later.
Picture: the students decided that we were not dealing with numbers, but with cupcakes and star cookies. I created 9 cupcakes and 6 star cookies.

*You might notice the picture I drew under the first picture. In my classroom we try to celebrate any Disequilibrium (misunderstanding) we might encounter in our learning. I don't want my students to be worried about getting the wrong answer, I want them to use wrong answers as a jumping off point to find new answers. In the second picture, one student wanted to join the cookies on top of the cupcakes. When we did, we found that the whole number changed. We no longer had 15 separate pieces of food, we had 9 pieces of food and 6 of them had extra decorations. My students saw that the second illustration changed the whole number, so we decided to stick with the first picture.

Real-life application: We decided that the cupcakes and cookies were for a birthday party for my twins. (my personal children, not the twin I have in my class). Our addition story reads like this: The twins are having a birthday party! There will be 9 cupcakes and 6 star cookies. How many cupcakes and star cookies will there be all together?
The students chose the words "all together" because they recognize those words from previous math problems. I want you to notice the word in parenthesis. (COUNTED) We had a big discussion as to why this was not a 'joining' problem. We did not 'join' the cupcakes and the cookies. If we 'joined' them, we would have the second picture, and that would change our total- and it would smush our cupcakes! (I realize it's all about semantics- but the kids were adamant!) We had to come up with another way to get our total- so we counted them.

Another Way- this is where I was worried. We have been working on fact families for so long, with no real proof of understanding, that I was anxious about how the kids would do with this. With addition, we have no problem, The kids take great pride in yelling out, "It's a turn-around fact!" Yes, we do recognize turn- around facts when they are right in front of us. However, I still have students who will answer "no" when I ask if we can turn around the two addends in an addition sentence and still get the same answer.

For the subtraction number sentences I simply used the illustration.
Me- "I have 15 pieces of food, but someone ate all the cookies. What is left?"
Student- "The cupcakes."
Me- "And how many cupcakes are there?"
Student- "Nine."

Easy-cheesy, right? Well, it was to a point. Once when I asked how many were left one students answered "Zero" because there were no more of that particular food.

Our biggest hindrance to fully understanding this concept is when we include "missing number" problems.
I have 15 food items total. 9 of them are cupcakes, how many are cookies? 9+___=15

If you would like a copy of the Math 4-square to use in your classroom, click HERE for a copy. 
It's not the worst thing in the word that we haven't fully grasped the "missing number" concept yet. We've tried the counting-up method but it's not the best. We'll just keep taking baby steps. We will get there eventually.  (if anyone has a great idea for teaching this concept- I'm all for reading it! Leave me a comment!)

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