Mrs. Z and I have been hard at work since being back from spring break. We have been planning 3 act lessons on subtraction and more measurement.

The first 3 act lesson was designed with the concept of subtraction. We collaborated and designed a lesson on popping balloons. I blew up 10 balloons, made a video with my son popping the balloons, and was all ready. Seemed like everything should go as planned. NOT! Due to technical difficulties, the video didn’t 100 percent run correctly (audio and image were out of sync). Ugh. It was really a bummer.

However, there’s always something to learn despite a down fall. Mrs. Z and I did learn that we need to take the time to plan our delivery of the lesson. Maybe we were overconfident with all that we’ve accomplished. We needed to stick with the basic coaching model of planning, delivery, and debrief.

And so that brings us to our lessons for this week. We first brought back Alex the Alligator. Mrs. Z wanted to have the students use another unit of measure besides the unifix cubes we had used before. We used the yellow and red chips as a different type of unit. (Check it out Remember%20me-alex). The premise is that Alex couldn’t see behind him and wanted to know how long he was.

After showing the students the hook (Alex with one chip), Mrs. Z took estimates. What I really liked about this part of her lesson was that Mrs. Z has been talking to the kids about what a reasonable answer is. Usually her kinders love to give her an estimation of “ONE MILLION!” Now she’s honing their estimation skills to a more likely answer.

Act Two/Three of Alex involved having the kids see what too many of the counters looked like. From there, Mrs. Z’s plan was to have them figure out the correct amount. She figured that they could figure it out themselves if we left the picture up.

Here’s where the lesson got dicey and we quickly realized it. Mrs. Z asked the students if they could draw Alex and the number of counters (like her previous lesson). Some of the students just started drawing their own alligators and measuring their own drawings. Some were doing what we had hoped by drawing an alligator and showing us he was 14 counters long.

We also remembered that we gave them 11 x 14 paper last time instead of an 8 x 10. Like I said before…despite any down falls, we always learn something. That’s what makes any of us want to be better. We debrief, we learn, we plan something better for next time.

A few days later, we planned for the Cookie Monster.(cookie-thief-smaller-numbers-color-correction-2). Rather than just doing another subtraction lesson and doing a subtraction sentence, Mrs. Z suggested we try this lesson with number bonds. (Side note – I love collaborating with Mrs. Z in that we can start planning for a lesson and discuss different strategies, but then come up with something new.)

Act 1 – First Mrs.Z introduces Cookie Monster and shows the video. The students love the video and we start to do a notice/wonder. Here were their responses….

- I think there’s 0 cookies left.
- The boy ate them (we asked how does he know) –I heard him eating them.
- They’re all gone (again–how do we know?)
- The boy was hiding – he left 2 -3 because he was full.
- The box is long…so it must hold 10.
- The box was closed so it must have been a full box.

Next we went to the carpet to estimate the number of cookies. Again, Mrs. Z asks, “What’s a reasonable answer?”

Some students were still having trouble figuring out an estimation, so Mrs. Z said “show me with your hands what the box looked like”

Act 2 – we showed the students how many cookies were actually in the box (to start with).

Then we showed them how many were not eaten. And promptly, the students started with their number bonds. It was terrific in that the students were visualizing what 2 numbers combined to make 13.

And as the grand finale, Mrs. Z had them complete a number sentence. And to prove their answers correct, the kinders started a number line and crossed out 6 “cookies” to show that there were 7 eaten.

What brought the house down was showing this video of Cookie Monster baking. We must have watched it 2-3 times. Go and see it here….Cookie Monster and Siri.

After a week of 3 Acts, here are a few thoughts…

- No matter how well you do plan for a lesson, technology will somehow fail you. Ugh. Go with the flow and make it work.
- Planning the delivery of a lesson is important. By the third go around, we made sure we knew how the conversation was going down. The 3rd lesson had much more flow to it. There was a rhythm.
- Clarity is imperative. Being specific with our instruction helps. However, when things don’t go correct, be resourceful and turn it around.
- A shout out to Mrs. Z because she’s really forward thinking with her students. Her students know to they must prove their answers (or show the evidence). For instance, how do we know you have drawn 13 circles? She has them number each circle. Perfect for the CCSS.

This week, I’m off to NCTM for a few days. I’ll catch you all in San Francisco.

Until next time…

Kristen