Sunday, February 13, 2011

Favorite Things that Worked This Week

One of my purposes for writing this blog is to keep a running record of things that worked in my room and things that I need to keep thinking about. This week I capitalized on Valentine's Day and made heart Elkonian boxes to use in my guided reading groups. We started with the hearts in the boxes and then pushed them up into the hearts for each sound. I used clip art from DJ Inkers and found the heart vase fillers in the dollar spot at Target. It was amazing how much my first graders wanted to get their little fingers on those purple hearts! I told them if they were not listening and following the directions then they would get the regular chips instead of the hearts ... needless to say they sat right up in their seats and started their warm up read!

The second successful project for this week actually came from one of my fellow first grade teachers. Although our district uses the HM math series, our grade level regularly consults Teaching Student Centered Mathematics (K-3) by John Van De Walle. We are currently working on money in small math groups, but we are always trying to find ways to provide our students with a strong number sense foundation. This week we introduced these cards and then later moved them into a math station.

At first the cards looked daunting and I was even a little skeptical about using them, but the thinking was that if we strengthen our students' mixed skip counting skills then it would be easier to count a mixed group of coins (dimes, nickels, pennies). Van de Walle points out how abstract counting money is and that it is hard for students to make sense of why each coin is worth an arbitrary amount.

The front of the card looks like this. I taught my class that when you see a 10 you count by tens and then when the numbers switch you have to count on by ones. The last number you say is the answer. So for this card you would count "10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74."

Then they flip the card over to check the answer. I also put out a game board with these cards so when the students get the right answer they move their piece up one spot on the gameboard.

Not only did the students get it, but they thought it was challenging and thus when they got the answer right they were hooked. I am not sure how effective this game will be in helping students count money because we have not assessed counting with mixed coins yet, but I am hoping to see a difference!

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