12 Ways to Get 11

As I have said countless times in previous posts, my 6th graders have been math buddies with a kindergarten class.  The other kinder teacher and I spend numerous hours trying to create and plan different activities for both classes to do.  One of the books I came across on Twitter was 12 Ways to Get 11 by Eve Merriam.

While planning, we purposely waited to do this activity when kindergarten was much more in tune with their addition facts and when 6th grade needed a break from testing.

I let my collaborative partner perform and read the book.  She’s so expressive with her reading.  The kinder students involved themselves at counting everything to 11.  After the book was read, we counted things around the room to 11.  For instance, students noticed that there were exactly 11 clouds hanging from the ceiling (complete coincidence!).  Students also noticed 11 months that were listed next to the calendar (May was being used on the calendar).

Next, we let both sets of students explore combinations of 11.  We explained that more than 2 numbers could add up to 11. My students love working with cuisenaire rods (their manipulative of choice).

This is what they came up with.  I loved seeing how each set of students would represent the combinations.  Kindergarten mostly just used the rods, where as my students had to represent the combinations with drawings, sketches, or some sort of visual representation.

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Here’s some footage of what we observed.

We wish we had more time to do more with this activity.  We meant to go back to it, but other things get thrown at us at the end of the school year.

Until next time,

Kristen

Asilomar 2017

My math partner, Stacy and I were once again fortunate to present this last weekend.  We were invited to speak at California Math Council’s northern conference at Asilomar. We had never been to the northern conference, so we were eager to compare it to our experience in Palm Springs (last year).  I had heard that this was smaller and more intimate, but with better speakers because of its proximity to the Bay Area.

First of all, the ground of Asilomar are gorgeous.  If you never been, Asilomar was like a leadership retreat-type place surrounded with trees all the while the ocean waves were crashing in the background.  When we were checking into our rooms, there was a random deer waiting for us (no joke).   It was quaint.  It was peaceful and zen-like.

We were running into all these math heroes every step and every turn.  While backing out the car, I was close to running over Dan Meyer, Zak Champagne and Mike Flynn.  While walking to explore the beach, there was Marilyn Burns taking a stroll in maroon hat.  We helped Ruth Parker get inside our residential building.  It was like being at an  All-Star Math Camp.

Friday night we went to see and hear from Dr. Jo Boaler.  While waiting to hear from her, I ran into this guy–Chris Shore.  We’ve been planning something for next year.  Incredible guy.  We caught up with each other while Stacy listened in on Dr. Boaler.

Saturday morning came and it was our time to shine.  Stacy and I presented on the flipped hundreds chart and our work on clothesline math to about 15 teachers.  Really engaged participants.  Lots of conversation.  Lots of sharing.  We felt incredible.  It seems like we keep getting better.  We have found purpose with what we are doing.

One of our participants stopped us in the hall afterwards and congratulated us on our session.  He said that he couldn’t believe how engaging we were.  We made the session feel really personal.  We were really energetic with our participants and made everyone feel welcome.  Usually there are sessions where there are “talking heads,” but we were the quite the opposite.  And on top of all this, that we made him think about what’s going on in the classroom.

The rest of our Saturday was spent seeing other speakers.  We got to listen in on Annie Fetter and her thoughts on writing for math.  We listened in on Cathy Humphreys as she explained her dissertation on mathematical agency.  Lastly, we attended Ann Carlise and her K-2 number talks with number lines session.

Usually I look for one thing to bring home and use.  I say that if you can just gleam one thing from any professional development, then it’s worth it.  I was lucky enough to have a math partner to talk this through.  We like poking each other with questions and then come to a conclusion.

When all was mostly done, we questioned what we got out of this conference.  Stacy and I learned something far greater then what some of these great authors and math educators were telling us.

• We figured out what kind of speakers we want to continue to be.  We need to be us. The comments from one our participants really was thought provoking.  And that was just our personalities.  We want to be personable in our sessions.  I don’t want to be a “talking head.”  If you know who we are, we are completely the opposite of that.  And we won’t change that.  That’s who we are.
• One of our expectations is that our participants walk away with something that they could use the next day.  In some of the sessions we attended as participants, that wasn’t happening.  There was lots of theory, but I wouldn’t know what to do with the information in my classroom.  Because of us flying up north, we couldn’t bring our full “show.”   I’ve been expecting our participants to look up all our resources on my blog, but I don’t know if that’s happening. How do we make sure they fully leave with something in hand?  (We have ideas).

We would go again in a heart beat.  We learned more about ourselves then we expected and that was major leap forward.  We didn’t expect that, but we couldn’t pass up processing our thoughts on the subject.

And so we continue to grow.  Onto the next conference.

Until next time….

keep laughing & keep smiling,

Kristen

Math in a box

Happy Summer everyone.  Hadn’t expected to blog much this summer as I’m vigorously preparing for my new teaching assignment.  However, something  “mathy” showed up  and I was asked to review it.

Sumboxes is a new subscription company that comes to your door step.  It’s essentially math-in-a-box.   In all my years of teaching, I haven’t seen “teacher” boxes, let alone subscription boxes that include math.  The sample box I received was geared for teachers or parents of kindergarteners.   Upon further research of their website, they also have boxes for first grade and second grade.

What’s in the box?

Let’s get to the nitty gritty before anything else.  Watch below….

Let’s lay it all out…. You have 2 math activities that include directions/notes, 2 PVC zipper bags, dice, cards, dinos, a magnet, and a sticker —-all included in a neatly blue and yellow schemed wrapping.

Upon my inspection, there’s a lot going on in this box. First, I liked that there was not one, but two quality activities.  I can totally see kinders at my school excited by the fact that they were playing games with dinos (who doesn’t get excited by that?!?!).  Secondly,  the instruction cards, notes, and activity boards were on good quality card stock.  They weren’t flimsy at all.  It seems as though they will survive some wear/tear from little ones.   I also was thrilled to see that I can store the activities in the zipper bags (if you haven’t come across these before….get them!!!!)  Lastly and most importantly, it’s all there.  As teachers, we scour the internet (Pinterest, Teacher Pay Teacher, or blogs) or our activity books (blow that dust off of them) to find quality activities.  If/when we do find activities, we then have to rummage around for the right materials, supplies, etc.  All of this takes time, effort (copying, laminating, cutting), and money.  And sometimes—in the case of TeacherPayTeacher—-you don’t truly know what you’re getting until you download the file (just because it has a cute font doesn’t make it good).

Long story, short — it is refreshing to see an idea like this come along where more math  content is being offered.  No fuss, no muss.

My thoughts…

It’s usually perceived by parents and students to be hard, difficult, and boring.  To read this mission statement is refreshing.   This mission statement also aligns with my views that math can be intriguing, invigorating, and enjoyable.  Why can’t students play games and do activities that practice math skills?  I can imagine the look on students’ faces when we take out one of these boxes.  Pure excitement!

Here are a few questions that rattled around in my brain…..

1. Would SumBoxes offer a menu of what math concepts are going to be covered in my future boxes?  For instance, this month we are adding, but next month we are covering subtracting.
2. Will SumBoxes eventually create boxes for third through fifth grades?  I can see the potential for fractions, decimals, etc.
3. If I’d like another box of the dinosaurs, can I get an additional box without having to pay for a full separate subscription?

(As I ponder more, I will be adding more questions in the future.)

My advice for teachers and coaches would be to check out Sumboxes.   I can see schools/principals subscribe to this for individual teachers and/or grade levels.  Teachers could try a box out for a month and rotate them among their colleagues.  The potential to for support in math is there.  It’s a great tool/resource to have around which will engage our students in math.

****This review was completely unsolicited.  I’m not getting paid and compensated in any way, shape or form.  I just like math stuff. ****

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

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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.

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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

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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

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

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

A Series of 3 Acts in Kinder

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

Flipping the Hundreds Chart

***March 2017 Update —this blog post got published in the March 2017 CMC Communicator—click to download—> Mar2017CMCrHundredsChart****

A few weeks ago, Mrs. Z (my kinder “rockstar”teacher from a previous post) was telling me how she wanted to work more with the hundreds chart.  She wanted her students to make connections from one to 100 and see patterns.   She uses her “placemats” from the textbook series, but she wanted more.   She showed me her hundreds chart which was the usual 0-100 from the top down.

A week later, I came to Mrs. Z with an idea I had read from Graham Fletcher.  His post called “Bottoms Up to Conceptually Understanding Numbers” was about the hundreds chart being inverted.  Instead of starting at the top with 0 or 1, the first line started with the numbers 91-100.  It completely makes sense conceptually.  If you keep adding more numbers together, what happens?  They get bigger or rise.  Since when, if you add numbers together, do you head further down a chart?

Mrs. Z stared at the idea intently as I sat quietly.   I can see the wheels in her head processing.  Let’s do it! she exclaimed.   We ran over to her chart and swiftly switched the numbers around.

Yesterday, I eagerly arrived to her classroom to observe.  I could hardly wait to hear the  talk.   What would the kids’ reactions be?  Would they notice?

The students sat on the carpet and Mrs. Z asked “what did you notice about the 100’s chart?  Turn and talk with your partner for 30 seconds.”  The students were engrossed in conversation.  The little ones were totally on-point and taking turns sharing their view points.  Afterwards, she congratulated them because that was “the best conversation they have ever had.”  She then took answers from the students.

Here’s what was said…

• Why are they mixed?
• Why are they at the bottom? Number 1 is at the bottom.
• The number fairy must have come.
• The numbers are backwards. 1 is supposed to be at the top like the calendar.
• 10 used to be up there (top right).
• I think you switched them.  It would take forever to switch them.  Maybe the math wizard did it (FYI–they call me the math wizard.)
• We’re counting backwards.
• Why is 100 up there and 10 is down there?
• It’s wrong.
• We are past the 100th day so the chart flipped.

I was definitely impressed with the students’ observations.

Mrs. Z then took it a step further.  She got out a bag of skittles and a jar and drops one in the jar.  She asked the students what would happen if she kept dropping more into the jar. “The jar fills up and there’s more Skittles,” one girl explained.   So, Mrs. Z filled up the jar with Skittles.  Now there were a bunch of Skittles that were “higher than just 1 Skittle.”

Wow…this was amazing and awesome conversation.  The kinders are rock stars.

And just when I thought we were done, IT GOT EVEN BETTER!

Mrs. Z had the students show her what 100 looked like with their bodies. (I later learned that this is called TPR – Total Physical Response.)  They all stood up straight and tall.  She asked them to show her what 50 would look like.  They all hunched down half way.  She asked them what 10 would look like.  Most of the kids sat down with their hands in their laps.  Mrs. Z then asked them what 0 would look like.  All the kids laid completely down on the carpet.

Oh…the learning didn’t stop there.  Mrs. Z was on fire.   She pulls out her water bottle and asks the kids to estimate where her water was.

They guessed around 50.  Quickly catching on, I grabbed my soda bottle (which was close to full) and asked the students where my soda was.  Most guessed 90.  I asked them what would happen if I drank some.  I immediately started gulping as much as I could in a few seconds (I don’t recommend this, however anything for the betterment of our students).  The students looked at me in shock, but guessed 70 or 80.

And just as we got done, one girl runs up to Mrs. Z and shows Mrs. Z her socks.  The wee little one explains that her socks are 100 and 0.

Holy  hundreds chart!  Mrs. Z and I were giddy with excitement during our debrief.  But we had more work to do.  She wanted to probe their thinking further.  We wanted to see if they would pick up on any patterns.

Day 2 – today Mrs. Z continued the conversation, however she tweaked the hundreds chart to look like this.

A number talk generated with the following observations….

• I see 10’s
• We’re counting by 10’s
• Zeros are in a line.
• There’s a one zero going up and then 100 had 2 zeros.

After changing the papers to show a new row of numbers, the students said they could see 1’s.  One boy said, “I see numbers counting down and getting smaller.”

Next Mrs. Z handed the class to me.  I told the students that we were going to play “guess my number.”   The excitement was in the air!

Mrs. Z and I used an activity we found on Math Wire (100 board), except we used an inverted 100’s chart.   We figured we wanted to keep consistency with what we just showed them.  We also wanted to see how many of them truly knew their numbers up to 100.  The students were going to follow the directions of the arrows in order to find what number I was “thinking” of.

This math wizard used her magical powers to pull numbers out of the air.  The students waited with baited breath as I told them which direction to go. Because we used the inverted 100’s chart, we ran out of space (see 29 with 4 down arrows).  The students thought I was tricking them.  They were being fooled.  Well, this math wizard can’t fool any of them.  They are way too smart for me.

I haven’t yet debriefed with Mrs. Z about the past 2 days, however I can report that it was really worthwhile for her to take a chance.  As I have said before, those kids are inquisitive.  They do notice details.  And lastly, kindergartens are no fools.

Until next time…

Kristen