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:

Screenshot 2017-09-27 21.26.34This 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:

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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.

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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.  🙂

#FDOFG2017–Math in First Grade: Take 2

We started in first grade math with an investigation into how mathematicians use tools and what kind of thinking they do.  Next, we worked through a guided discovery of two more tools: unifix cubes and multilink cubes.  On the surface these look very similar (basically they are just plastic squares in all different colors), but if you dig a little deeper you can find many different ways to use them.  And that was the job first graders were given, by asking the questions “What can you do with these math tools?  What can they help you better understand?”

Kiddos were given some time to explore with each kind of cube, in two small groups. Most kiddos made long sticks or tall towers, comparing how tall they were in relation to other towers or to kiddos.  The ones playing with the multilink cubes, which have circles on all sides of the cubes and can therefore connect in a variety of ways.

After each kiddo had a chance to spend time with each manipulative, we debriefed on what we had discovered.  We figured out that the cubes could be used for many of the same purposes: measuring, counting and making patterns.  BUT–the multi-link cubes could also be used to build 3D things or models.

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For now, these are just for fun, but very soon mathematicians will be using these tools for very important work!  Stay tuned to see more about it! 🙂

#FDOFG2017–Math in First Grade

We are readers in Rm. 111, but we are also mathematicians!  Early in the year, we got started talking about math, as well as working and thinking like mathematicians.

One of our first experiences was a guided discovery of some math manipulatives.  Ms. Turken and I decided to start with Power Polygons and pattern blocks, because most kiddos have some experience with these tools from kindergarten.  It seems, too, that introducing math in a fun, non-threatening way (like playing and exploring) is accessible to everyone–even those who already have an “I hate math” mentality (and yes, there are some of those friends, even this early. 😦 ).

We did have a quick little conversation about what it meant to “think like a mathematician”, since that was what I was asking them to do.  We charted our ideas, and then left the poster up while we worked.  (**Sidenote–nothing on our chart had anything to do with the manipulatives we worked with, but it was great to begin to see/hear their mathematical thinking already…)

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After we found them in our classroom, I gave kiddos a choice of which ones they wanted to start with, and then set them loose.  The only “rule” was that they had to think like a mathematician and figure out how we might use that tool.  Additionally, we reviewed the “right” way to work with a math tool and kiddos were to pay attention to how well it went (because we would debrief at the end).

After we finished the guided discovery, we met together to talk about how it went.  We worked through a chart to record “plusses” and “deltas”, discussing what went well and what we needed to change.

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For the most part, they did really well, and it was exciting to watch them work.  Stay tuned for more stories of how we’re getting started with math in first grade! 🙂

Pumpkin Pie Plans

If you’ve been here much this fall you’ve read many posts about pumpkins.  We’ve read lots of books about pumpkins, planned and created amazing Literary Lanterns out of pumpkins, and then, because of a super lead from Mrs. Meihaus, returned our pumpkins to the wild depths of the Robinson Woods from whence they came.  Ok, not really, but we did take them out to see what would happen next, with our fingers crossed that we’ll grow a pumpkin patch. 🙂

Well, over Thanksgiving, while I was working on dessert with my own family, it seemed to just make sense that our Rm. 202 family needed to make, bake and ENJOY a pumpkin pie together.  I mean, come on, right?  PERFECT!!

And of course, true to 20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher form, this story is going to SUPER LONG because I kept the whole story to myself until the very end.  Apologies–I’ll try to save as many words as I can and instead use pictures and videos of my kiddos instead of lots of teacher words from me!

1.) We used the 3 Act Task that I had learned about a couple of weeks ago to start our thinking about what would be the best way to cut our pie and therefore how many we might need to bake to feed our class.  I showed them these images and asked what they wondered…

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They came up with these questions:

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We decided to tackle the last one:  Which is the best shape of pie to make for all of us?  But even before we could figure out the answer, we had to determine what we meant by the word BEST.  We agreed that it was the pie that fed the most people with the least amount of work and the biggest piece!

We worked in small groups to try out triangles and rectangles to see how we could make those shapes and sizes work.

We eventually agreed that triangles would give us a bigger piece of pie, as well as would be much easier to cut all the same way (so it would be fair for everyone), and so another group got busy working with the recipe.  We used this one, from The Minimalist Baker.  It’s vegan and so perfect for all of the allergy concerns we have in our room (and which was why I tried it for my Thanksgiving, too–everyone could eat it!!).

We did some quick multiplication and figured out we’d need to make 3 pies to get enough pieces for all of the kiddos plus two teachers, and so then we had to look at the amounts of each ingredient we’d need to have (that way I’d know if I had enough of everything at home already like I thought I did).

With some moments that reminded me of the Feast Week work we did in 5th grade several years ago, some of my first grade friends helped me triple the recipe.  Wow!

Once we had the details figured out, the kitchen ok’ed to use (thanks Ms. Barbara!!), and all the ingredients brought to school, we got busy!  We carved out the morning to make and bake our pies so that then we could eat our pie for dessert after lunch.  I have to say THANKS  A MILLION to my Rm. 202 friend Rachel for taking care of pictures for us while we made pies, and man did she take a lot! I cannot decide which ones to share so I’ll just play a slideshow here so you can see her great work and the smiles on all the faces of the Rm. 202 bakers!  Plus I love how things look so different when someone else takes the pictures instead of me. 🙂

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We got a little surprise when we took our pies to the oven to be baked–Ms. Barbara gave us a tour of the kitchen!  What a treat to see where the lunchtime magic takes place and it definitely gave us more of an appreciation for what those ladies do for us every day!

We cut our pie (using our super smart thinking from math earlier in the week!) and then plated it, topped it with whipped cream (well most of us did!) and then chowed down.  Some kiddos were worried that they would not like the pie, so we agreed that they didn’t have to eat the whole thing, but just take a “thank-you bite,” which is a way to say you appreciate the time and energy it takes to make a great dessert.  We got mixed reviews on the pie, but I think the thumbs-up have it with this one.

I’d say these three were the happiest about pie.  Could have probably eaten the whole thing themselves! Love their smiles!!

Ok, I will be done now, and will leave you with this picture.  It sums up what I wanted to happen at that old kitchen table in my classroom and kind of reminds me of what Thanksgiving looks like at home.  Only this one was celebrated with my Rm. 202 family. 🙂  I am definitely thankful for them!

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Acts 1 & 2, Day 1: #classroombookaday

It happened again.  Remember when I struggled on this blog somewhere last year with the idea that I don’t tell all the parts of a story and then forget about it or time passes and I don’t tell any of it?  Well, boo–this is another time of the year when so much is happening and I haven’t been telling some of our stories because there are so many pieces.  This ends now! 🙂  Very slowly….with day 1 of a new project today and then hopefully all the parts of a few other stories soon.  Hopefully. LOL

So anyway…at a professional development meeting I was in yesterday, I learned about 3-Act Math Tasks and knew I wanted to give them a try.   I am all about productive struggle, giving kids meaningful, motivating math tasks, and using contexts that are relevant to our mathematical community.  These seemed right up our alley!

As you read in the explanation, these tasks start with a video or picture that invites wonder and questioning.  There are very few words and kiddos can go in a variety of directions as they engage with the visual.

Our 1st Act started with this picture, which I found on Twitter and comes via  and  (thanks, by the way!).  It connects BEAUTIFULLY with what’s going on in our room this year. 🙂

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As we started our work, I gave kids a chance to study the picture and then talk with their partner about what they noticed and what they wonder.  We shared out and gathered these questions:

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Once we had an idea about where we might go, partners were invited to choose a question they thought they could answer and have a go.  They could choose any on they wanted to (to start with) but they needed to be sure to show their thinking and convince their classmates that their answers are correct.  We reread our chart to remind us of what that meant:

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Then we got busy with our first drafts of work.  As they got their paper and got started, I gave each partnership a copy of the picture in case they wanted to use it in their work.

We will continue our work tomorrow, but Day 1 of Act 2 (where kiddos work to find a solution) went fairly well and EVERYONE was engaged.

I caught a little bit of Josh, Jack and Chase’s thinking here:

And while we’ll come back to our posters and revise our work tomorrow, we’re off to a pretty good start:

Can’t wait to share our next steps later this week!

One more thing…what would YOU wonder about the picture?  Here it is again:

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Please share your questions in our comments! We’d love to try out your wonderings!!

How Many Fingers Did We Cross?

Last night I send these tweets to an author friend of Rm. 202’s:

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After the conversation ended, I knew I had the plan for what we’d be doing in math this morning. 🙂 #reallifeproblemsolving #wehadtofigureouthowmanyfingerswerecrossed

So…I started by sharing the Twitter thread and telling them all about the conversation I’d had with Ame Dyckman–the one that started with shrimp and chili dogs and ended with unicorns and crossed fingers. LOL  I told them all about how I’d really been wondering how many fingers we would have crossed and that I knew they could help me with that solution.  First we practiced crossing our fingers (and our toes–this was really hard for some kiddos! ha!), and then I reminded them of the problem I needed their help with:

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We agreed that we were figuring out the total for 23 people (22 kiddos plus me!) and that our explanations needed the have the criteria on the right side of our chart.  Kiddos worked with their learning partners, and could choose any (or all!) of the parts of the problem the wanted to work on.

Kiddos had time to work, choosing all different parts of the chart to solve.  I’m pretty sure this work went on for about 35 or 40 minutes, with partnerships working pretty steadily and cooperatively together to solve our problem.  As I worked through the room and conferred with each pair, we tweaked some things, I asked questions to help them dig deeper and many groups worked to make sure their posters could be understood without them standing by to explain what the numbers/pictures meant.

After their work time was up, I called everyone back to the rug to explain the next step.  While kiddos are familiar with the term “gallery walk” from math in kindergarten, I hate to admit we have not done as many of them as I’d like to this year.  Because of this, I needed to make sure that they had a very specific goal and job as they went around; the scaffold of a specific question to look for was helpful for many and the “roaming” was kept to a minimum.  So, during our gallery walk, their job was to hunt for the answers to our chart questions with their partners.  They could take notes if they wanted to (Aadish thought it was like being a spy), and the suggestion was made to take post-its with them.  They could only talk about math: questions they had about the posters, answers they saw, wonderings they had.  After a few minutes, we’d meet again on the rug to see what we’d found out.

Here’s a bit of what that gallery walk looked (and sounded) like:

Once we gathered on the rug, we got to dig into some solutions kiddos had found.

We started with the first one, “How many fingers would we cross if everyone crossed 2 fingers?”  Several teams tossed out their answers and we had everything from 46 and 44 to 24 and 30.  What?? Rather than have every group explain their thinking (and perhaps confuse everyone or make it harder to get to our solution), I went with the two answers closest together–44 and 46.

We started with having Allie and Ayonna share their poster and telling about their thinking:

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If you can tell from their poster, A and A decided to organize their thinking by writing everyone’s name so they remembered to include everyone.  Then, as we talked about how to count all the 2s, we decided that we could make groups of 2s to make 10.  10s would make it really easy for us to then count the total number of fingers.  We made an equation at the bottom to show the total of 46.

After A and A shared their thinking, we talked about the 44.  Ella and Chase were sure they had gotten the right answer, and said they weren’t convinced 46 was right.  This was a great addition to the conversation, and while I somehow didn’t get a picture of their work, we studied their poster, where they had also counted pairs of fingers, but with drawings (they traced their fingers).  Rather than list them in rows and columns like on the poster above, the fingers were randomly placed on the page, and readers had to follow arrows around the paper to follow the thinking and see the way they counted.  We talked as a class about the two examples, and Lucas suggested that even without counting, he was convinced that 46 was right because A and A had made their work organized and also included an equation.  After looking at the pairs of 2s on E and C’s poster, we realized they had only drawn 22, and therefore were a couple short.  They worked to add in their last fingers and agreed with us that 46 fingers was the right solution.

Callahan and Jesse showed us how they figured out 1o crossed fingers here:

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They wrote lots of 10s, and then made sure to label each 10 so they knew they had enough (23).  We talked together to clarify which line of numbers was which (fingers or people), and added labels to make that more clear for readers.  They counted the total number of fingers by making 2 groups of 100 with tens, and then finding 30 leftovers.  Their equation ended up being 100 x 2= 200, then 200 + 30= 230 fingers.  At the bottom they started work to figure out how many it would be if we did the 20 fingers and toes.

Lastly, Jamie and Kaiden showed us how they knew that if we crossed ALL OUR FINGERS AND TOES it would be 460 fingers and toes!! (We were amazed by this number and figured Ame Dyckman would be impressed, too!).

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Their thinking looks a little like Callahan and Jesse, with groups of 200 (made of 20s), though, rather than 100 with 10s.

After this one, we realized some connections between our numbers–like that we could have used the 10s numbers to help us with the 20s (because 20 is a double of 10)–and so figured that we could use that same thinking to figure out “how many fingers if we cross 4?”

Johnny helped us think this through and figured that if we counted 46 twice that would the same as doubling.  We drew this to help us figure that out:

fullsizeoutput_facThrough our discussion and brainstorming we figured we could count by 10s to figure out most of it (and Callahan even found another 10 by using that 4 inside of the bottom 6! This made it SUPER EASY!!).

So…after our work we had decided we’d crossed A LOT of fingers hoping for a new book. 🙂

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We ended by noticing (and we’ll come back to this much later) that the 4 is a double of 2, the 20 is a double of 10, and also that the answers doubled as the numbers doubled.  Kaiden added some arrows to show our connections. 🙂

Wow….I’m tired writing about that, but I am pretty sure my kiddos were equally tired working on it!  It’s the kind of math that reminds me that real life problems are the best and that when kiddos have a real reason to figure it out, the motivation is through the roof!  Everyone works hard and stays engaged because they have to know the answer!  Thanks for the inspiration, Ame Dyckman!!

Lions, Rectangles and Triangles–Oh My!

We have been on a bit of a geometrical journey as of late.  We’ve studied sides, corners (which we know are called angles), diamonds (which of course are really called rhombuses!), square corners, trapezoids and loads of other things.  We’ve taken pictures, manipulated blocks, read books and even drawn pictures.  Pictures of shapes, and now pictures of lions, too.  Let me explain. 🙂

Well, actually, let me let a guest author explain. 🙂

Hi parents, guardians and friends of Room 202 1st graders! My name is Kate, or Ms. Holzmueller, and I work as a TA at Robinson. I’m one of the TA’s assigned to the 1st grade recess (where I often referee kickball) and lunch (where I help maintain order and pass out napkins and embellish hamburgers with ketchup smiley faces!) I’ve been spending time in Mrs. Bearden’s classroom the past few months, supporting some of the fantastic kiddos and doing a few read alouds, too! 🙂
Last week I spent time during math rotations having discussions with kids about squares and triangles and other shapes. (One of the benchmarks for first grade learners is that they, say, recognize that a square is a square because it has four equal sides and four equal angles.) While playing with the manipulative shapes I thought of one of my favorite authors, Ed Emberley and his books that help children (and adults like me who love to draw!) draw animals and monsters and people and cities, etc. all by drawing simple shapes. I showed Mrs. Bearden an Ed Emberley book and she was kind enough to let me share his work with your students.
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So during math centers, we looked at two pictures of a lion, one real, the other drawn. We had conversations about the shapes within the lion–how it’s nose looks like a triangle, how it’s head looks like a rectangle, etc. Then we practiced drawing all the shapes we had identified on white boards with dry erase markers. After that, we followed Mr. Emberley’s tutorial on how to draw his version of a lion, again on the whiteboard. (First by making a rectangle, then another rectangle, then a triangle…) 

Today during math time we practiced drawing shapes again on the whiteboard and then we used cardstock and markers to draw our own lions, still using rectangles and triangles and circles, etc.

Students were allowed to use whatever colors they liked and embellish their lion as they best saw fit–some have freckles! Some have angry eyebrows! We had conversations about how many triangles they used to show the teeth, how many triangles to make the mane, etc.

The results are very colorful and scary and fun and are now greeting passers-by in the halls. 

(And BOY are they BEAUTIFUL! Sorry–this is Mrs. Bearden.  Had to throw in my two cents about how great they are.  AND how great Ms. Holzmueller did as she taught the lesson! Learned a few things myself that I will incorporate tomorrow. 🙂  Really, I did!  Ok…back to the guest post…:) ).

If your student mentioned drawing a lion today know that Mr. Emberley has lots of other fun books they might like, too! (I found two of them in the Robinson library just today!)  And remember it’s just as easy to play “I Spy” with geometrical shapes as it is colors! “I Spy with my little eye something that is a square…”