Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Calendar-Challenged....but Math-Informed

Well, there's a first for everything, and today was a first for me.  I pulled into the parking lot at Lewis Carroll, saw Daisy Walter, the guest teacher who has taught for me several times, and I asked her who she was today.  She said, "You."  I can't tell you what thoughts and feelings I had at that moment!  I quickly went inside and checked online, and sure enough, I had the third of three Math Institute trainings.  I couldn't believe it, and I couldn't miss it.  I scheduled my guest teacher back in November, so that's why it wasn't at the top of my head.  The 100th Day celebration was first and foremost!

I have not spoken with anyone to find out how the day went, but no news is usually good news.  I want to give a BIG thanks to  Mrs. Walter for taking my class on such a big day, and to three moms who were scheduled to help with the Stations: Amy Brandes, Nicole Morgan, and Cat Stanley.  Thanks also to those of you who donated, once again, for both the 100 Day activities AND our canned food drive.

I did learn a lot during today's training, and will share some of the ideas and games with the students and with you in the coming weeks.  Please continue to work with your child at home on composing and decomposing the numbers 1-10 so that they can recognize the quantities (dots/counters/objects) by seeing patterns of the addends for each number without counting:
1: 1, 0
2: 2, 0; 1, 1
3: 3, 0; 2, 1; 
4: 4, 0; 3, 1; 2, 2
5: 5, 0; 4, 1, 3, 2; 2, 2, 1
6: 6, 0; 5, 1, 4, 2, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2
7: 7, 0;  6, 1; 5, 2; 4, 3, 3,3,1
8: 8, 0;  7,1; 6, 2; 5,3; 4, 4; 2 ,2 ,2, 2
9: 9, 0; 8, 1; 7, 2; 6, 3; 5, 4; 3, 3, 3; 4, 4, 1
10: 10, 0; 9, 1; 8, 2; 7, 3; 6, 4; 5, 5; 2, 2, 2, 2, 2 

We are focusing on how the brain sees these patterns, not ALL the numbers that add up to make one of these numbers.  For example, I could technically say  6: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1.  But when I do that, I am counting.  Equally as important as being able to recognize the quantity quickly, is to be able to EXPLAIN what is going on in the brain to have come up with the answer. In fact, students cannot receive points/full points on the district math for counting ("eye" counting, counting fingers, counting toes, ANY kind of counting) or for answers without being able to explain how they got their answer.

IMPORTANT:  It is important that the children have lots of experience with these patterns using actual objects and in a multitude of situations so they are forming pictures in the brain, not just memorizing.  That's how today's math is different than in the past.  Just memorizing isn't creating brain pictures of how the numbers are composed.  

Picture this:  A second grade teacher writes a problem on the board: 25 + 36.  The children are asked to solve it....without paper and pencil.  Then they must explain how they solved it.  One of the ways the students could solve this is to picture 25 as two and a half ten frames.  Thirty six is 3 ten frames with six in a fourth frame.  They then combine the full ten frames: two and three.  That makes 5 ten frame which the children will know is 50.  Then they combine the 5 and the six and they picture moving the six "counters" being moved into the ten frame with the unfilled frame that has 5.  After "filling" up the five empty slots, there's one left over.  The child then puts the new filled frame together with the other 5, and now has 6.  Then there's 1 left over, making the total 61.  All of this is done in the student's head.  (This is one scenario.  There could be other ways - pictures - that a child could solve this in his/her head.  That's also part of the way we teach math now.)  Without having experience physically moving counters from one ten frame to another, your child won't be able to do it easily in his/her house.  Also, if the child has to "count" 5 plus 6, as in the sample question, "5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11", it will make it difficult for the child to hold onto and manipulate the numbers in his/her head.  
I hope this explains what it is we are trying to do in kindergarten with the numbers 1-10.  Please know that we will be introducing 11-20 this grading period and your child is going to need to know that with numbers in the teens, they are composed of a full ten frame and then part of another.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email or call me.


  1. I am thrilled to be your first follower!! I read your post with interest, I started teaching a math class in our district today! I will share the information on your blog with the teachers next week. Check out the comment I made back to you concerning the smartboard attendance file.
    Thank you for your kind comments, I love your blog template!
    A Teachers Touch

  2. Thank you, Linda! I have been enjoying your resources, as well! I'd be interested in knowing how you teach math in kindergarten in your district.


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