## Tuesday, November 9, 2010

### What We Are Working On in Math Class

As you know, children in our school all do math at the same time. This allows us to group children in ways that most support their individual strengths - so some of the students in the 1st/2nd grade classroom stay with me, some go to Karen Bayoneto and some go to Renata. In this post, I'll be talking about what my group has been working on, but I will try to travel around to take pictures of other math groups in action soon!

Since the beginning of the year, our overall theme has been "number sense". This encompasses what numbers actually are, their relationship to each other, beginning place value, money, writing numbers, odd and even, strategies for counting, adding, subtracting, and making appropriate estimations. We use many games and hands-on manipulatives, as children of this age still need lots and lots of concrete materials. Yes, we do paper and pencil tasks too, but only after much practice with things that can be touched and explored.

Here is what we did today:

Each child got a cup full of beads. First they just looked at the beads to make a good guess as to how many there were in their cup. We get practice every week with this, as we have an estimation jar in our room.

After writing down their estimate, children got busy counting the beads for the actual number. Many different strategies were used, which is something else we've had lots of practice with. Some children grouped their beads in 10s and them counted, some lined them all up in a straight line for counting, and some just counted one by one. Oliver told me that he had a very smart way to count - he would count by 2s until he got to 10, and then would make additional groups the same way. Skip counting is practiced often - this will lead to further shortcuts, and will help when children are ready for multiplication. Children wrote down the actual numbers, and this was practice writing 3 digit numbers correctly. Numbers like 108 can be tricky, right? Where does that 8 go, anyway?

Next, we used our good friends, the base ten blocks. Whoever invented these was a genius! I love the way that children can see that a 10 stick actually is the same as 10 unit cubes stuck together. Anyway, the students then got the flats, sticks and cubes to build their numbers. Then they had to draw the blocks they used. Again, this was easy for most because of all the practice we've had this year building all sorts of numbers.

Finally, we got to use our brand new place value abacuses (abaci?). We made these yesterday as yet another way to visualize place value. Each line of beads represents a different place. So this abacus represents the same number as the base ten blocks.

We also spent 15 minutes or so working in our Singapore math books (each child going exactly at the pace they can) and ended up doing a fun pumpkin glyph activity. But that's another story for another blog post. I would like also to take this time to thank the math helpers - you people make my job so much fun and so much more valuable for our students. Gabrielle (Ariana's mom), Peter (Owen's dad), Jill and Dan (Maddy's parents) have committed to helping out our math students this year, and deserve a huge thank you from everyone!

imogen said...

So interesting, and yes Susan,the plural of abacus is abaci. The Romans used 'abacus' to mean a tray, a panel, a gaming board and a counting table.

Susan said...

My son Ray told me that it could also be abacodes. Is he pulling my leg? He is kind of a word nerd :-). He said since the plural of Octopus is either Octopi or Octopodes, then the plural of Abacus could be Abaci or Abacodes. It's a stretch.

imogen said...

'abacus' is Latin and therefore the plural is abaci as it is a 2nd declension masculine noun, however, the Romans derived this word from the Greeks and their plural form is, when transliterated from the Greek letters, abakodes, so I think we are both right! Hurrah!

imogen said...

Also........If you want to be consistent then you have to call one abacus an 'abax',( 3rd declension Greek noun) if you use the abakodes form in the plural!