# 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

# Names on a clothesline

It’s incredible to have teachers take something you introduced them to (in this instance–the clothesline) and see what they do with it.  And I can’t emphasize enough to my teachers that they should use whatever I give them and make it their own.  I usually tell them to “make it work for you.”  And then, they invite me in for me to see how they made it work.

In this instance, it’s Mrs. Z, my kinder all-star.  Mrs. Z decided to type her class list of students’ names onto cards and see what the kiddos would do with it. How would they want to put their names on the clothesline?  Quite a innovative way to make use of the number line.  I was curious too

.

I assumed they when asked, the students would want to put them into alphabetic order.  Seemed like an obvious choice.  Nope…alphabetic order didn’t even come up as an idea. Instead, the students decided to count their letters in their names and put them in order from smallest name to longest names.  “Medium is in the middle,” I had one student tell me.  Got it! Thanks for explaining.

And little by little, they started placing their cards. And they did really well.  Yes these pictures look like that are incorrect because they are not in alphabetical order.  Remember though that they were putting them in order by number of letters in their name.

And one night for a parent evening for kindergarten, I saw this.

.

So much fun to see.  What a thrill to see one of my routines expanded and used.   This only proves that there are so many possibilities to the clothesline activity.

Until next time,

Kristen

# Sorting in Kinder (a 3 Act)

My kindergarten collaborator, Stacy and I recently attended a 2 day workshop with Graham Fletcher and it re-ignited our passion for 3 act tasks/lessons.  She’s made it her goal to collaborate with me and create one task per topic.  I happily accept her challenge and told her, “GAME ON!”

The most recent topic in her curriculum was sorting.  This is a skill that we all take for granted.  We sort our trash into various recycling bins.  We sort through mail.  We sort our clothes while folding laundry.   How do we get little ones to understand how things are alike and yet different?

She already uses the “Which One Doesn’t Belong” routine and asks students “how would you sort these?” However, how can we bring this standard (K.MD.3 Classify objects into given categories; count the number of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.) to life in the form of a 3 act task?

## Act 1

As always we started with a notice and wonder routine.

Notice –

• I saw crayons
• Math Wizard said “clean up”
• He’s drawing a rainbow and boxes
• Crayons are everywhere
• I see markers
• I heard the Math Wizard
• She has a son ?!?!
• He needs to pick up his stuff before school
• It must be night time because it’s dark

Wonder –

• Was he cleaning up to go to bed?
• Was he cleaning up before dinner?
• Was he cleaning up because he was done?
• Does he have  a brother or a sister?

## Act 2

I was really curious how Mrs Z was going to push their thinking beyond their notice and wonder.  She inquired further.  She showed the Act 2 picture.

“What would you do with that stuff?  What if Mrs Z said ‘clean up’? What would you do with it?  Where would you put the stuff?”

The students thought about her questions for a moment and slowly put their hands up.  One student piped up with “I’d put the pencils away”.   And Mrs Z next asked, “How?”

“The markers go together. The pencils go together and the crayons go together.”

“I WOULD ORGANIZE IT!”—>And there it was.  Just the answer we were looking for.  And that is a big word for this student.

And so we discussed how they would sort them.  Some students said by size.  Some students said by color.  One student said he’s organize them between caps and no caps (Markers have caps on them versus no caps.)

Usually at this part of the lesson, the students do some kind of calculations or reason out their answer.  How could they be expected to sort from a picture?   That’s where Mrs. Z comes in with her bag of tricks. Prior to the lesson, she made bags of pencils, colored pencils, and crayons.  Each group would be showing all the different ways to sort their bags.  Oh–let the games begin!

Mrs Z and I wandered around the room eager to see what the groups would do.  She informed me that they don’t work in groups too often, so she was curious of how this would go down.

Here’s one group’s explanation.

Here’s another groups explanation.

At one point, we noticed that a group put all their pencils together.  We asked them how they could further sort this group.

Just when I thought we were pretty much done, Mrs Z runs around a throws unifix cubes on to their tables.  The kiddos didn’t bat an eyelash and just incorporated them into their categories.  Here’s one groups way of organizing.  What do you notice about the picture?

## Act 3

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Final thoughts….

• Having the students work in cooperative groups for this lesson gave us opportunity to see which roles the students would fall into.  You can see who lead the pack and who followed along.
• Student usually come up with more answers than you can anticipate, but we are never disappointed.
• I love the hands-on exploration part.  We got to see how they were organizing their items.

Until next time,

Kristen

# Sharing Hearts – a Kinder 3 act

It’s that time of the year when our students are running to ___________(insert convenience store here—I prefer Target) to buy gobs of chocolates, candies, cards and all of the Valentine’s paraphernalia that is attributed to this holiday.    And in the spirit of such heartsy, lovey, dovey emotions, Mrs Z. and I put together another 3 act lesson. What better way to embody Valentine’s Day then to share with the ones you love.   In our case, it was sharing with your classmates.

## Act One –the fight.

Along with every Three Act lesson, we encourage the students to inquire about what they are seeing with the questions, “What do you notice?” and “What do you wonder?”

Notice –  (Compiled between 2 classes)

• hands are fighting
• I heard the math wizard’s voice
• I see a box
• They were ready to share.
• Inside the box was candy
• Candies are hearts
• tried grabbing with hands
• Candies are different colors

• Why didn’t they get their own box of candies?
• Did they have enough to share?
• Are there other people there?
• How many candies are in the box?
• Why were they fighting?
• Why weren’t there 2 boxes?

A bonus concept for the kinder teachers was that there were a few talking points to review.  Some students talked about what it means to share.  One class focussed on sharing so that the results are fair.   In one class, I had a

## Act 2 – How many hearts are in the box?

Act 2 consisted of us giving the students the information that there were 12 hearts in the box.  Using this candy-hearts template, we had the students figure out how many candy hearts Jared and his mom should get.  You can see the multiple ways that the students went about solving it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mrs. Z called me over to listen in on one conversation.  Take a look below at what we observed.

Terrific piece of evidence.  This student observed that she knew that they were the same because they had the same number of cubes and had the same shape.

## Act 3 – The big reveal

Act 3 is usually my favorite because it reveals the answer.  It’s really the best part of the lesson because you can hear the “YES!” or see the high fives spreading throughout the entire class.  Here’s how we revealed the answer.

Overall the lesson went better than planned.  There was another teacher that observed Mrs. Z doing this lesson and whispered, “this is dividing.”  I nodded and told her that was true, however I knew that Mrs. Z had begun working on some addition.  I also told her that you never know what our students are capable of until you give them that opportunity.

Keep spreading the LOVE of MATH!

Until next time…

Kristen

# Kinder clothesline with 6th grade

Some of my 6th graders went back to kindergarten.  They didn’t know it and we didn’t tell them till the end of the activity.  The teachers and I just wanted to do it out of sheer curiosity.   And it turned out to be a curiosity that was worth exploring.

Let me back up a bit.  Just last week, I led a workshop on the clothesline activity.  I like starting off with the teachers trying one out on their own.  I pulled out my weight cards that were used for kindergarten.  These cards are filled with colorful pictures of a bike, building, tree, a leaf, and other objects.  Students are asked to order the objects by weight (the lightest being on the left and the heaviest objects toward the right).

When I tried this out in kindergarten, we had the students put their cards in 3 basic categories—-light weight, medium weight, and heaviest weight.  We were not looking for precision.   However, 6th grade brought in the precision aspect.  Because they have more background knowledge, they were not only integrating math, but science, social studies, and language arts.  The 6th grade teacher also told me that this was great because the students were persuading their peers as to which order the cards should go.  They had been working on argumentative statements in the weeks prior to this activity.  (Gotta love when you can bring more than one curriculum into an activity—I call it “more bang for your buck!”)

Let me give you a visual…

Kindergartenput these in the “light category”.  No arguments from them.

6th gradeargued whether the leaf or the feathers should be switched.  One student brought up the fact that the leaf was made of water and the stem makes it heavier.  Another student claimed that there were 2 feathers compared to just one leaf.

Kindergartenput the train in the heavy category although some questioned whether it was a toy train or a real train.

6th grade put it in the heavy category althought argued whether it was a toy or real.  One student said it was a toy because of the multi-colors.  Another student argued back that it was real because of the smoke coming out of the smoke stack.  Another student questioned whether it was made of wood or metal.

Kindergarten put this card in the heavy side.  No questions/arguments.

6th grade put this card on the heavy side, however others had issues with it.  One student wondered if it was a toy plane.  Another students said there was blue sky behind it and so it was real.  Another student said the weight might vary because we don’t know if it’s full of people.

Kindergartenput this on the heavy side.  They said they have seen these trucks on the roads and highways.

6th grade – put it on the heavy side.  Questions of whether or not it was a toy were brought up.  Another student asked it if was filled with anything because that would make a difference.  For instance, the weight would vary if it were filled with feathers versus bricks.

Kindergartenput this in the middle category.  They did wonder if it was filled with anything.

6th grade Wondered if it were filled with anything.  One student said that when she bought a new backpack it was filled with paper to make it look full.  Another student said it could be filled with books.

One last thing.  We did not say a word about this being a kindergarten activity to the 6th graders.  We just told them to put the cards in order from least to greatest. At one point, an exasperated student exclaimed “THIS IS SO COMPLICATED!”

Below is the final clothesline that the 6th graders “settled” on.  (There were some that were still not happy with the outcome.)

Until next time….

Kristen

# Clotheslines for Math concepts

Using clotheslines as an interactive number line has been a hot routine this year.  Last year, I slowly and carefully rolled it out into a few classrooms for use of fractions.  This school year, I’ve expanded into more classrooms, but am proud of how my teachers have especially made it work in K-2 classrooms.   It’s been extraordinary to see using a routine where you get so much “bang for your buck.”  There are a good 2-3 content standards that students have been using, let alone multiple Standards of Math Practice.

The clothesline makes sense of numbers and number placement.  I especially love the fact that it’s interactive, provokes discussion, and gives insight as to a child’s thinking.  Students are actively learning and using multiple strategies to complete the task.  And more importantly, it is a tool and a model for students to see the “big picture”.

Let’s breakdown each grade level and how they’ve used the clothesline.

KinderI’m a true believer that if you can make a routine work for kindergarten, you can make it work for any grade level.   Ever since I introduced this to my kindergarten team, they’ve come up with MANY different ways to bring clotheslines to life!  It was rough to begin with, but my kinders have now been through the routine 4-5 times and they’ve got it!   Parents are now asking my teachers what kind of math they’re doing because the kids are telling their parents about what they did.  (Score!)  In September, Mrs. Z and I started with number 0-5 first.  Within weeks, we did 0-8.  And by November we did, 0-10.  It’s imperative to point out that kinders are not working on proportionality of the numbers.  They are just working on counting and cardinality (and measurement and data).  We also tried out using the clothesline with weight.  Instead of literally putting each object in order from least to greatest weight, we kept it simplistic with the light items being placed on the left while the heavier items went on the right.  If they were sure of an item, they placed it in the middle.

First grade – tried it out with numbers 0-25.  Lots of conversation.  Teachers got insight into how their students were thinking about numbers.

Second grade – tried it out with numbers 0-50.  Lots of conversation.  What was unique is that students were using their strategies of counting doubles for a few particular cards.

Third grade – have used this with benchmark fractions.  One 3rd grade team just designed a card set with multiple representations of multiplication.  This will be tried out in the new year

Fourth grade – will be using it for fractions.

Fifth grade – one teacher used it for decimals.  The students had been doing all the operations with decimals and wanted to see their number sense when it came to placing decimals on a number line.  What happened was a complete shock to her.  Students grouped the decimals according to number of digits (for instance, .4 and .5 would group together because they have one digit.)  That completely blew my mind.  Surely, we can’t always assume that our students have a true understanding of a concept when we ask them to apply their knowledge elsewhere.

Sixth gradeteachers will be using clotheslines for integers and integers integrated with decimals, fractions, and percents.

If anyone is interested in downloading the sets of cards for their own use, look here for my sets of cards.

Until next time,

Kristen

# Calif. Math Council – 2016 (Pt1)

It’s Monday night and I sit here beaming because my weekend was awesome.  I was fortunate enough to attend California Math Council’s Palm Springs conference.   It was a weekend of connecting with fellow math educators, getting inspired, and always learning.  Not only did I get to attend, I got to present—which upped the ante A LOT!

7 months of preparation ….convincing my collaborator on the idea, writing the proposal, editing, getting accepted, doing paperwork for my district, piecing together our presentation, gathering supplies, and figuring out who should say what, and multiple rehearsals—- had all boiled down to 90 minutes on Friday morning.  It went by in a flash.  But it was lightning in a bottle.

Friday morning at 8:30 am, my collaborator, Stacy and I started sharing our story (mostly Stacy’s story) to about 20 math educators.  Turned out that most of them were kindergarten teachers.  In introducing myself to everyone and asking where they were from, one participant said “I wasn’t going to miss this because there’s never any sessions for kindergarten.”  And in my mind, I thought to myself, “then this is where I’m supposed to be.”

After starting the presentation, we found our flow.  The nerves went away and we did our thing.   I handled introducing each of the routines and the technical “mathy stuff” like standards and content while she told her story of what happened in her classroom. And it worked.  The participants listened intently.  They took notes. They actively participated.  We had conversations. We reflected.  Stacy looked at me at one point and I could see what she was thinking…It’s working!  Yeah…I know.

When it was all said and done, Stacy and I were thrilled.  Feedback was positive.  Participants were happy with their give-aways.  Someone asked me if we could come back next year.  Too soon to tell, however—never say never.

There’s a saying…You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with! I’m fortunate to have a teacher like Stacy who’s willing to take a leap of faith, take a risk and try something new – all for the good of her students.  Our collaboration is built on trust and honesty.  We value each others opinions.  We push each other’s thinking because we know something powerful will come of it.  She is just as much a coach to me as I am to her.

To all those TOSAs, TOAs, instructional specialists, & coaches—go find YOUR Stacy. (Sorry–this red head is taken) Find a teacher that will push you as much as you push them.  Develop that repoire.  Nuture the coaching model.  Help each other get better.

And Stacy…thank you for being you!

Until next time,

Kristen

# M&Ms spill in Kinder

Whoa! What a week I had.  I have been scribbling enough notes in my notebook that I had to share what’s been going on.  As a matter of fact, I’m going to be working on MULTIPLE blog posts just from all the amazing things I’ve seen/heard/experienced in the past three days.

For this post, I have to talk about the wonderful things that are going on in my kindergarten classes.  My kinder teachers have been enamored with 3 act lessons…..so much that we are designing our own.  My collaborator extraordinaire/partner-in-crime, Mrs.Z and I got together a few weeks ago to brainstorm ideas.  She said she wanted to focus on having the students compare which numbers were bigger/smaller.  Specifically we looked at K.MD.2 – Directly compare 2 objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/”less of” the attribute, and describe the difference.

Here’s the video we came up with.  In the spirit of Graham Fletcher (Graham…if you are reading this, I hope I made you proud!) …I present to you M&M Spill.

Act 1 starts with this video.

Mrs. Z did this lesson last week.  I just re-taught it in another kinder classroom.  Lots of notice and wonder. (compiled from both classes)

Notice

• they were poured out M&Ms
• different colors
• the package –M&Ms pic on front, not on back
• rainbow colors
• the M&Ms disappeared — (This was one of my favorite things they noticed!)
• orange, yellow, blue, brown
• hand opened package and I saw a lot come out
• M&Ms were dumped out

Wonder

• Can we eat them?
• Can we count them?
• Are there enough for all of us?
• How many M&Ms are there?
• Which color has the most?

In Mrs. Z’s class, there was much discussion on how we could figure out the M&M mystery of which color had the most.  One of the students whispered into Mrs.Z’s that they could compare them by color.  At that moment Mrs. Z shouted “Shut the front door!!” (She gets enthusiastic at such brilliant ideas.)

For the 2nd Act, we gave the students this clue.  They used unifix cubes to model their answers. The students diligently got to work.

Here’s the part of the lesson that is always fascinating to me. I always wonder…. How do the kids think?  How are they processing the information?  How are they going to show their answers?  And that’s when the show (the learning) begins. (And this is when I usually run around and take my photos…there’s always so much to observe!)

And here’s another thing…there were so many different ways that the students modeled their answers, that I couldn’t just pick one!!!  Take a look at how each one is significant.

And for the grand finale (Act 3), we re-counted all the M&Ms. We had to check to see which color had the most.

Final thoughts…

• Kindergarteners and their thoughts always intrigue me. They are inquisitive little people who see alot.
• I was amazed to see their conversation just on the words “Notice” and “Wonder.” Those aren’t exactly kindergarten words, but their insight as to what those words mean was incredible. (More on that in a future post.)
• Love the process of examining one standard and coming up with an idea on how to cover it. (I can thank Mrs. Z for her marvelous mind which amazes me every time.)
• And I can never ever ever stress the importance of collaboration.  I love bouncing ideas off of people rather than working in solitude.   Power in numbers! (Math pun!)

Until next time,

Kristen

# Change happens! Hello 16-17!

It’s a new school year!  And that means a whole new year as math coach! I say BRING IT ON!

My district has been in school for the past 3 weeks.  So much change from last year to this year.

There is something to be said about change.  Change is good.  Change pushes our practice.  It forces us to question.  It forces us to re-evaluate our situations

Over the summer, the district directors made the decision to move the coaches to the schools (rather than being in the district office).    This was a move that I welcomed considering I was hardly at my desk.  I liked the idea of being closer to the teachers, seeing sunshine again (didn’t have a window in my old office), and especially hearing kids outside my door.  I didn’t know it, but I really missed it.  It’s a constant reminder for me to keep doing what I’m doing.  And I’m in love with the school that I moved to.  The teachers are so welcoming.  They even invite me in for lunch when I’m on campus.

I’ll admit that the move hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows.  It took a while to get a desk delivered.  (When it was delivered, it was locked.  When it was unlocked, there was someone else’s stuff in there.  Awkward!)  Don’t have a work laptop or a printer yet, so that’s caused me to keep running to the district office to get copies made and print things out from my thumb drive.

Another positive change has been that out of the 8 elementary schools, I’ve been assigned 4 schools to work with.  Luckily they’re the schools I mostly worked with last year.  A little more driving is involved with trying to hit all 4 schools, but I always come out smiling afterwards.

Now…what have I been working on?  The answer is–sooooo much. These first few weeks have been jam packed!  I got the pictures to prove it!

The first day of school, I was invited to see ten frames being used by one of my 3rd grade teams.

A few days later..I joined my 6th grade teams to sit with them in a training with a math project they are doing.  We went over conceptual lessons using integers.  Here they are using number lines.

In the first days of school, I was invited to demonstrate how to do a 3 act lesson with the 2nd, 4th and 5th grade kiddos.  (I-heart-3-acts).  And what I love even more is seeing the teachers engaged in what I’m doing.  They are eagerly taking notes, asking questions, and being students themselves.  I was also invited into my son’s classroom.  It’s so special to be able to teach your own kid.  And it was awesome for him to see what kind of teacher I really am. That’s a memory I’ll hold on to forever.

During the second week, I was asked to do a numbers talk and a number line with 3rd grade.  I love using the number line because it helps the students make sense of numbers.  They can contextualize meaning from it.  Plus I really like finding different variations/representations on a number.  I’ve seen it done at the secondary level and it really surprises me that someone hasn’t done this for the elementary level.

Last, but certainly not least, there was rice.  Yes…there was rice.  My dear friend/colloaborator Mrs. Z asked me to dye rice for her so that she can create a sensory/exploring center for her little kindergarteners.  How could I say no?   It took 3 days and 3 nights to color 60 POUNDS of RICE!  You read that correctly.  60 pounds of rice.  I’m sure there was some sort of proportion lesson in there (3 cups of white vinegar, and one bottle of food coloring= 20 lbs of colored rice), however I was so inundated with blue rice, red rice and green rice…that I’m not sure I can eat a sushi roll or have rice pudding again without thinking of this experience.  The operation as a whole took up half my garage.  But the kindergarteners are loving it.  And Mrs. Z is a happy camper.

Speaking of Mrs Z and her kindergarteners…there is great news to spread around.  She and I have been chosen to speak at the California Math Council’s Palm Springs Conference in November.  After our initial excitement, she and I realized that we have 90 minutes to fill with all the great learning we created in her classroom.   We are revising our presentation, but we are highly anticipating the whole experience.  There will be plenty more on that in later posts.

Until next time….

Kristen

# No numbers…no problem for Kinder

Just when I think that the year is coming to an end, and all the outstanding math is coming to a close….one teacher always surprises me.  Mrs. Z is at it again….being an exceptional kindergarten teacher.  She’s tackled the 3 Act lesson, she’s mastered the 100’s chart, and now has been experimenting with numberless word problems.  She had taken a particular interest in them after I had introduced them to her through Brian Bushart’s blog. Mrs. Z’s work is always intriguing and I’m always thrilled to be invited to watch.

On the first day of her new venture with a numberless word problem…Mrs. Z created her own and posted this..

First Mrs. Z posed the question “What’s a numberless word problem?”  The students quickly raised their hands and answered “words turn into a problem”, “something you have to read,” and “no numbers.”  Mrs. Z went on to explain how she was going to be telling a story and that they had to figure out the missing parts.

She had the students close their eyes as she read the story to them.  She then had them discuss what they had pictured in their heads with their partners.  Next they discussed as a whole class what they envisioned.  Once everyone had a picture of what was happening, Mrs. Z started asking the class what good numbers they could use. As you can see in the pictures below, the students came up with different combinations of numbers to add.  They also proved how they could add them up.

One student tried to answer “TWENTY HUNDRED MILLION!”  Mrs. Z calmly replied “that many would not fit in my yard.”

After finishing her circle map of possible answers, she had the students try their own.  And this is what they came up with.  Love seeing them verifying their answers at such a young, impressionable age.

Mrs. Z was completely thrilled with the results as was I.  She asked me for feedback, and the only thing I could think of was to try giving them an answer to work with and seeing what combinations they came up with.  Would they work with number bonds, manipulatives, or draw out their answers?

A few days later, she wanted to try again and invited me in to watch.  Here’s what she first posted.

First, Mrs. Z started with notice and wonder.

Wonder – What kind of cookies were there?  Did he get sick?

She once again practiced with different combinations that make up 12 cookies.  They even discussed whether or not zero cookies were eaten on Monday and 12 cookies were eaten on Tuesday.

One student wanted to come up and show the class how he counts his numbers together.  All the students had a turn showing Mrs Z. what combinations make up 12 using unifix cubes.

Next the students were given a similar problem about more cookies eaten by George.  This time he gorged on 18 cookies.  They were asked to find out all the possible combinations of 18 as they could.

They were given unifix cubes to start with.  This table decided to first count their cubes to 18 and compare (to make sure they were all the same).

Once they counted out their cubes, the kiddos got to work.  The table I sat at needed help, so I engaged them a bit.  I told them to close their eyes and break their stack of cubes.  After they opened their eyes, they counted their two stacks of cubes.

The highlight of my two days with kindergarten was one sprightly pony-tailed girl named Lauren.  She ran up to me after she had finished her work and proclaims “PICTURE TIME!”  I nearly fell out of my chair in laughter.  (Do you think the kids know me or what?!?!)

Until next time,

keep smiling & keep laughing!

Kristen