Sunday, September 30, 2012

Structured Math Talk

Morning Meeting is one of the most power packed 20 minutes of our day. It's as socially interactive as it is academic which is why it's such a powerful part of our day. One of the features that the children have been practicing is called "structured math talk". When a question is posed to the group they are first asked for "private think time", no hands raised, no one is called upon for an answer, and most difficult . . . no one can call out what they are thinking. We all think at different rates and this allows those who need more time just that. After a moment the children are then instructed to "turn and talk" with their partner in the circle. Now is the time they can share their thinking with each other and compare answers. A moment or two later I tell them to "finish their thoughts" and we come together to share as a whole group. The twist here is that they don't share their own thoughts but rather the thoughts of their partner. Not only does this method of structured math talk insure that everyone is participating but they have to listen carefully to their partner as well. A skill that is difficult for people of all ages to be sure!

Each morning when the children enter the classroom their first job is to sign in on the Smart board. The questions vary each day, they are always related to something we are working on, and give us information about how others think and feel. The children respond by moving their name into a "tens frame". We will be using tens frames all year, and in 1st grade as well, to help us think about numbers, count groups of numbers, add and subtract numbers, and just about anything else you can think of with numbers! Here is an example of one of our recent sign in questions.

The children can easily see which apple had the most responses and which had the least. That's old hat for us now. What this kind of tens frame allows them to do is to count how many children like red apples easily and efficiently. This particular tens frame was the perfect vehicle for me to teach the children the skill of counting on. An invaluable skill that will prove to be worth its weight in gold. We can also look at how many more a certain group has than another by counting the negative spaces, all in good time!

How can you help at home? I'm so glad you asked . . . pennies! Pennies are great for counting and sorting in a number of different and fun ways (shiny vs dull, heads & tails, dates). They also stack nicely in towers of ten and even better they lay down side by side in 2 rows of 5 to make a super 10's frame.
I bet you can already see where I'm going with this one . . . counting by 10's! We've been working on counting by 10's to 100 in the classroom with plastic bugs. You may need to count along with them, allowing for some echoing of counts if they are not sure what comes next. The visual and being able to touch the pennies really helps. If your child is ready to move on by all means take them further by adding more rows of pennies. If they are already beyond 100 slap a dollar bill down in front of the rows, teach them that its worth 100 pennies and count on from there. When they reach 200 slap down another dollar bill and go on and on and on. Want to really motivate your child . . . let them keep all the money they can count. By the end of kindergarten they may have enough for their first year in college. Or at least enough to pay for their books and resources! 

Real world math is so much fun and without a doubt the most meaningful. And to think that some people want to do away with the penny.  Have a blast counting with your little one!!

1 comment:

Heather's Heart said...

Julie, I know your blog is geared more for your parents but I love it too! This is such a great post and I loved your post about the different types of play.

Thank you so much for sharing such helpful tidbits. I am happy to be your newest follower. I would love for you to hop over and visit me when you get the chance. I have lots of *freebies* you can grab and use. =)

Heather's Heart