# Where did the numbers go?

Back in January (yes, I’m back logged a few months) I did a professional development for 4 – 6th grade teachers.  I was asked about presenting something that could help with the ever-looming testing in the spring.   My purpose was to introduce them to the strategy of Notice & Wonder while showing them what a numberless word problem was.  I emphasized the fact that we have to slow down the problem solving.  The students need to focus on content rather than just grab numbers and add them together (I call them calculator kids). Both strategies (and my presentation) were a HUGE success.   Each teacher not only left with a base knowledge of notice and wonder, they also left with 2-3 numberless word problems to try in their classrooms.  One 5th grade team tried them out the very next day.

Fast forward a few weeks, when I met with my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. P.   We planned a lesson which would introduce the kiddos to a numberless word problem.  During our planning session, we came up with the idea of putting a bunch of problems together so that the students could review all the previous material.  Little did I know, this one planning session turned into me running between 3 different schools showing all 3rd and 4th grade students numberless word problems.

Now let’s begin with my favorite —the marble problem.  I did separate marble problems for both 3rd and 4th grades.  And both problems created the most conversation.

I got the students into a routine by starting off with “notice & wonder” before drawing any concepts or figuring any of the problem out.  I created this template to help the students navigate through the problem.  It also helped that they kept track of their thoughts throughout the process.

3rd grade  (each number was a separate slide of a powerpoint)

1. Jeanne has marbles.
2. Jeanne has marbles.  Some marbles are blue and some marbles are yellow.
3. Jeanne has marbles.  Some marbles are blue and some marbles are yellow.  The rest of the marbles are green.
4. Jeanne has 12 marbles. Some of the marbles are blue and some marbles are yellow. The rest of the marbles are green.
5. Jeanne  has 12 marbles.  3/12 of the marbles are blue and 2/12 of the marbles are yellow.  The rest of the marbles are green.  How many marbles are green?

Was a little apprehensive about doing a problem on fractions with 3rd grade, but they stepped up to the plate and were superb with their problem solving.

Here are a few pics to see…

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4th grade – each slide was a separate slide of a powerpoint.

1. Ty has more marbles than his sister, Pam.

2. Ty has more marbles than his sister, Pam. Pam has many marbles.

3. Ty has more marbles than his sister, Pam. Pam has many marbles. Louis has marbles.

4. Ty has 6 times as many marbles than his sister, Pam.  Pam has many marbles. Louis has marbles.

5.  Ty has 6 times as many marbles than his sister, Pam. Pam has 34 marbles. Louis has 202 marbles.  Who has more marbles, Ty or Louis?

By the time we got to number 3 (…..Louis has marbles.) the students were freaking out.  “Who’s Louis?”   “Why does he need marbles?”

By the time they got to the last layer of information, they were excited to find the answer.  More importantly, they knew what they needed to do.

Final thoughts….

• “Layering” the information of a word problem really helps the students focus on the content of the problem.
• It slows down the problem solving process.
• Students get to create a mini – movie in their heads before they are slapped with numbers and the question.
• The teachers noticed that by the time students got the question, they knew how to solve.  They were also able to draw out and model their thinking.
• One big AH-HA was that students don’t know how to properly give an answer.  They need to work on being specific with their thoughts.  For instance, students would tell me 7.  I asked them 7 what—7 flamingos at a dance?  7 cows jumping over the moon?  Students need to be able to write/type out their full complete answers to get credit on the tests.
• The notice/wonder routine is really inclusive.  Teachers were amazed at how many students were engaged and participating.  Everyone of the students had something to say.
• Lastly—Mrs. P did a notice and wonder talk with her students about the whole numberless word problem.  This is what they had to share….

Such a worthwhile routine especially before testing where there are MANY word problems.  Here’s hoping that all of it transferred to the test.

Crossing my fingers…

Kristen

# Cents clothesline

Recently, I was invited into a 2nd grade classroom to work on money (2.MD.8 Solve word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, using \$ and ¢ symbols appropriately).   The teacher wanted to try out something new to go along with this standard.  My suggestion was to try out the clothesline.  Let’s see if students could put different variations of coins from least to greatest.  It totally make cents (1st bad money pun)

And it went splendidly.

Each student was given a card to work on.  They calculated the total amount and put their answers on a post it note.  When they were ready, the hung their cards on the clothesline.

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When they were finished, we went over each card and made sure that we added each coin correctly.

At the end of the session, they students asked why they were doing the activity now (they were well passed their money unit).  I answered by telling them how many skills were involved with this activity.

• recognizing each coin and its value.
• practicing their addition skills with one and two digit numbers
• comparing and ordering the numbers
• showing equality with some of the coins (for example- 1 dime is the same as 2 nickels which is the same as 10 pennies)
• realizing what happens when you have more than 100 cents.

After my answers, I realized how much “bang we got with our buck.” (2nd bad money pun).  This activity had a lot going on it.  And all we did was put up a string and gave them cards.   But the thinking that went on was nothing less than incredible.

Until next time,

Kristen

# What’s a Shape?

Back in February, I came across a blog post from Telanna about shapes.  She saw a Twitter post from Sarah Caban asking a simplistic question.

How would you define the word “shape”?

Not wanting to miss out on the bandwagon, I decided to jump in.  Considering that I have access to such a grade span, I patiently waited for the right time in each grade level’s curriculum to pop in on a few classrooms and have a conversation.    Each teacher that I chatted with was also intrigued with my master plan and wanted to see/hear the results.

Kindergarten

And so my journey of defining shapes began with Mrs. Z’s kindergarten in March.  She was right in the middle of her shapes unit (perfect timing) and so she asked the kiddos the question “What is a shape?”

Here’s a snap-shot of what was discussed….

• Some shapes are big and small.
• sometimes round— circle or oval.
• some are skinny/ thin
• different sizes
• star, heart, rectangle, square, triangle, diamond, hexagon
• shapes have points and angles.  (T asked –do all shapes have points)
• Not all shapes have points.
• shapes you can trace or cut out.
• Everything we color or write or draw is a shape.
• Shapes are everywhere because they are.

The kiddos keep having side conversations asking questions like “are they lines?” and “what about letters?”.  One child proclaimed “the sky is not a shape.”  Upon hearing this, another child replied, “but what’s in the sky?  Sun, Stars and Clouds”.

After the in-depth conversation, Mrs. Z asked them to get up and make shapes with their bodies.  First, they made a circle (or the attempt at a circle) and then a rectangle.  Some students ran up to me to show me the shapes with their fingers/hands.

Fast Forward three weeks—->>>

My next door neighbor, Ms. N, teaches third grade and upon hearing about my shape quest,  invited me in to lead the discussion on shapes.  They were also in the middle of their geometry unit, so the kiddos wanted to impress me with their growing geometry vocabulary.  They also corrected me in that they are discussing POLYGONS, not shapes.

• something that has sides
• has a vertex (corner of a shape)
• has angles—> can be 90 degrees
• has different sides
• has to have more than 3 lines
• has to be closed —-> all lines connecting
• can be a polygon
• shapes are all around us
• convex —> shape doesn’t have a cave in it
• can have a concave in it
• rectangle can have opposite sides
• can have parallel sides

I didn’t have time to go to a fifth grade classroom.  Time became of the essence for the fifth grade teachers with reviewing for CAASPP testing.

HOWEVER—- I have an a 11 year old son (5th grader) who was happy (** sarcasm**) to have a conversation with me about shapes.  Yes…this is what we do during our commute into work/school.

• shapes are in everything
• there’s no one thing that doesn’t have a shape
• shapes are the building blocks of life. (how philosophical of my son)
• have corners
• they can have an infinite number of sides, but then that might turn into a circle
• the sides are not always the same.
• there are squares, rectangles, hexagons, circles, triangles,
• rectangle has uneven sides
• square has all even sides

I asked what he meant by “uneven” and my son said that it was when one side was larger than the other.

Final Thoughts

Students in the primary grades start by being introduced to their shapes.  It becomes just identification which is the first level of learning.  By third grade, they are being exposed to more specific language and vocabulary.   This third grade wanted to impress me with their knowledge of geometry.  They had been testing out different shapes to see which would pass their definitions.  As for 5th grade, they have a broader view of what shapes are.  They have also explored 3 dimensional shapes as they discover volume.

If I had a chance to follow up with each class, I could ask the question, “what does NOT make a shape?”  It would be a great contrast to their base knowledge.  It would challenge their thinking and we could probably have an in-depth conversation about their comprehension of shapes.

A magnificent exploration.  Much thanks to Sarah Caban & Telannannalet.wordpress.com for the inspiration.

Until next time….

Kristen