Tag Archives: Engagement

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!)
  • M&Ms made a mess
  • 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.  

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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.img_8041

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

Division in 4th grade

We have been on spring break this past week, however I had a hankering to write about other previous experiences in classrooms. Back in January, I had been asked to help with division  in a 4th grade classroom.  She wanted a fun activity to help the students.

I introduced the class to a game I called Division War.  With the help of Uno cards, the students had the opportunity to create their own division problems.   The student who had the largest quotient wins the round.  The concept is similar to what I had heard from Robert Kaplinsky in a session on Open Middle.  However, unlike just challenging students with an Open Middle concept, I like to rev up the engagement a notch with a little friendly competition.  The students don’t know that they are working on a DOK level 2 or 3.  They think they’re just playing cards.

To get the students started, Mrs. P and I played one round on the whiteboard.  I chose the numbers 8, 7, 7, and 2.   I asked the students where I should put my numbers.  They were pretty random with where to put them and this is what it looked like.  What I also liked about this part is that they had to identify which part was what.  We used our math vocabulary to make sure we were all talking about the same parts of the problem.

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Then Mrs. P went with her green cards.  She chose 4 cards which were 4, 4, 5, 2.  The students helped her put the numbers in some sort of arrangement.  She happened to get a bigger quotient than I did.  Mrs. P won that round.

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Now rather than just letting them start to play, I wanted to push their thinking a bit more.  I asked them if there was any way that I could win that round. Could I switch any numbers around so that my quotient beats Mrs. P’s quotient.   Some suggested to just rearrange the numbers in any order and hope for the best. However, one student finally came through.  “You put the 2 in the divisor and make the largest number possible in the dividend”  Bingo!  There’s the lightbulb going on!

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The kiddos started playing.  It was great to see them having so much fun with a simple rendition of war but with Uno cards. I guess the novelty of having me help out and a competitive spirit really got the best of them.

Just as I was musing on the high level of engagement, Mrs. P came to chat with me.  “We have an issue. One of the groups has figured out how to get the highest quotient without doing any of the math.”    Well…now you have my attention.   We marched over to the group and I asked them to explain what they were doing.   One student told me that he didn’t need to solve the rest of the problem because he pulled a one and put it as the divisor.  He knew he had won.

Then I heard this from a boy at the same table…”That’s cheating–he’s using one in the divisor.”  The boy sat there smugly like he had figured out my secret.  (I was laughing on the inside–loved it!)

As I walked away to check on other groups, I overheard Mrs. P trying to get the students to show their work.  She then threw them another challenge.  Mrs. P asked them to play another few rounds but with finding the smallest quotient.

Mrs. P ran over to me and told me about her discussion.  I looked at her wide-eyed and gave her a high-five.  That was actually a brilliant twist to my plan.

In our debrief, we encountered one hiccup.  How do we get the students to show all their work?  The group that figured out the “secret” would just choose 4 cards, look at them, and declare a winner without actually doing any of the calculations.  I consider that a good problem to have.

Kristen