# 10 Lego Math

Last week during our Bike Rodeo in PE, we did a math investigation around how many wheels were on the bikes in our bike row in the gym (yeah, I know…I should have shared that post first.  Sorry. 🙂 ).

It was our first try with math notebooks and working to communicate our mathematical thinking in words, pictures and numbers.  Kiddos are expected to be able to do that thoughtfully and clearly, based on this rubric:

This is an end-of-year expectation, but we learn about it early and work on it all year in different ways.

As I looked over the work kiddos had recorded in their notebooks, I noticed that kiddos mainly just wrote numbers.  Ok, really a number.  Just the answer to whatever question they were working on.  The words and pictures parts were pretty much MIA.  It’s still early, so this is neither surprising nor worrisome–we just need some work on what it means to clearly and concisely show what we did to solve a problem.

While we could have done this in a variety of ways, I took a super smart suggestion from my friend, Mrs. Marks, (who you might remember inspired this Lego Leading/Following lesson) who thought she would walk a bit backward and have her kiddos work on just representing something really small they that had counted, made, etc.  Perhaps because the first “Mrs. Marks” lesson was using Legos, or maybe because they’re the best tool ever, or we all love them or we have a TON of them….but regardless, I framed our next communication lesson around a Lego creation invitation.

With the goal being using words, pictures and numbers (as necessary) to explain their thinking and making their explanation match their creation, kiddos were given a baggie with 10 random Legos.

Then I gave them these directions:

For the first part, kiddos only worked on steps 1 and 2.

As we moved to the next step, I did a think aloud as I drew and then wrote about my own creation.  We talked about what information would be helpful to know if they were going to build a replica of my tower (because that’s what they will be doing next!).  They gave great suggestions of words to use and we revised and added to the words, also discussing what labels might be helpful.

Somehow I didn’t get a picture of my tower, but I promise it looks just like that drawing. 🙂

Kiddos’ next step was to work on their drawings and writing, with nudges along the way to add or revise to make sure their thinking was clear and complete.

Today we finalized our thinking, took a picture (to compare our drawings and creations) and posted our work on Seesaw.  We used the recording feature to read our writing and add any details we thought were important.  Next step is that we will build each other’s creations and discuss what information in our work was helpful, confusing, and/or missing.  We will then try again with another creation and see if improve.  Kiddos have been so excited about this work and I’m excited to see how it impacts our math work going forward.

How do you use Legos to learn?  We’d love to hear your ideas.  🙂

I’m not sure how this is possible, but it seems that my class just had our first class meeting on Friday. I know that’s really not the case, but I guess all the meetings we have had have been either impromptu or have followed a different protocol than is typical to Rm. 202 because when I opened up our class meeting flipchart the other day the last one was from May 2015!  WHAT?

Well, regardless, we sat down to have a meaningful class meeting, following a protocol that everyone new because even if we didn’t do it this year “officially,” everyone had followed the same procedure in 1st grade.  (In case you don’t remember how we do class meetings in our school and district, check out this post, as well as this one where I wrote about it previously, then keep reading. 🙂 ).

We went around our circle and our chart dots looked like this when we were finished:

A comment for the sake of transparency: our original chart got lost so I recreated the dots as I remember then.  There may be a few in the wrong place, but this is generally the result after our choices. Sorry, friends!

While often the red dots indicate times where our class was having trouble behaviorally, as we talked through the dots for this class meeting, we figured out that the red dots next to “subtraction in math” were related to the fact that the math we were doing was tricky (more on that later!).  The red dots next to the others were things we had already worked through earlier in the week.  All-in-all, this chart shows a pretty great week for Rm. 202!

As is part of the typical class meeting protocol, the last part of the meeting is having kiddos write me a “Friday note” where they share whatever is on their mind: something from the meeting that they didn’t get to say, something from the week that they think when well (or was hard for them personally), an idea they have for something in our classroom, a question, what they’re doing over the weekend, etc.

Then I spend time over the weekend answering their notes.  I was SUPER impressed that many of our notes were related to how kiddos knew that they needed to work on not getting Xs next week.  A couple of friends asked for help with certain subjects, and many kiddos told me about weekend plans.  And yes, as happens at least everyone once in a while, someone’s note just told me I was the best teacher EVER.  Loved that one, of course. LOL

As with any class, the Friday note is perhaps one of my favorite pieces of communication with my students.  I learn something every week, and I find that kiddos share things in this venue that they may not feel safe to say to me or have time to talk to me about during the course of a regular, busy day.  These notes are so personal and give EVERY kid a chance to have a voice in our community.  Friday notes #FTW!