I am a wife, mother of three boys, and a first grade teacher at a Title I school in Virginia. Between the wacky world of teaching and the pandemonium of five people living in a very small house, I figure blogging is cheaper than therapy!
Math instruction has come a long way since the timed drills, flash cards, and memorization of facts of my childhood. Sadly, many children did not have a true understanding of the underlying math and number concepts, only the ability to repeat the procedures or memorize facts. They appeared to learn math, but in reality, did not have a deep understanding of number and number relationships.
Well, not anymore! We know so much about how kids learn and understand math now and are so much better at teaching math developmentally! Here are a couple of my favorite math authors:
So, what about that magic number? If you ask any first grader at my school, they would proudly tell you their magic number. Briefly, it is the highest number they can compose and decompose quickly without counting. That means knowing and understanding number and number relationships (to 10).
Really KNOWING, not just memorizing.
Knowing that a group of 5 is 5 no matter the configuration, recognizing a group of 5 in a larger group, being able to recognize the parts of 5, even with one part missing.
Now, how do we get them there?
Well, in the beginning of the year, we really dive into number concepts - counting and grouping and subitizing, oh my! We really work on that Magic Number a little later in the year, around December or January.
I start by assessing which numbers the kids already know. This is an individual assessment from Kathy Richardson (see pic/link above). You show the student a given number of counters, then hide some under your hand. The student should look at the remaining counters and tell you how many are hiding. They should do this fairly quickly without having to count. Do this with all the combinations of the number.
Then, when I know what numbers they have really well and which number they almost have , but not quite - that's where we start. The kids practice composing, decomposing, and finding the missing parts of their number. For example, if the number the student is working on is 5, then he will only work with 5 of the same manipulative.. He will work to find all the combinations of 5 either by separating the manipulatives into parts or having a partner show one part and determining the missing part.
I love the activities we use to do this! Here are a few examples and their sources:
I laminated each mat and placed it with the necessary manipulatives into a labeled zip loc bag. Then the kids grab a bag labeled with the number they should be working on and head to their work space to get started. Students record the combinations on recording sheets (early on), scrap paper, or dry erase boards.
And lastly, I'm late to the party, but I linked up anyway! I love looking at other teachers' classrooms so I linked up here for International Blog Hopping Day! (It's linked to my previous post about my class.) Go check out the fun!
And go check out all the other freebies out there!
Have a wonderful Friday! (Although everyday is Saturday in the summertime:)