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The book that made kids think

As part of the #MTBoS 3rd mission we needed to choose a collaborative website and I want to give a huge shout out to @fawnpnguyen and http://www.visualpatterns.org/.  I have used her website in the past for developing k-2 lessons and if you haven’t visited to stretch your own thinking as an K-5 educator it might be time. What’s great about her website is the accessibility that students have towards generalizing a pattern because of its concrete”ness”. When patterns are built with materials and not on paper, students are able to fearlessly test a hypothesis or the extension of patterns (AND MAKE CHANGES) without the anxiety of being wrong.  I have found that using manipulatives when engaging students in patterns tends to break down the feelings of being mathematically incompetent….and that is wicked awesome!

CCSS asks that students in 1st grade to demonstrate fluency for addition and subtraction using multiple part-whole additive strategies CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.C.6.  It would be really easy to “teach” students how to make a ten or the doubles  minus 1 strategy, but then we know they would forget the strategy by the time they got off the bus.  I always try to expose students to situations where they can visually see the relationships between numbers (and remember it).

We used the book Two of Everything by Lil Toy Hong to set the context which is a story about an old couple that finds a magic pot and everything that goes into the pot is doubled.  Although the book is about doubling in particular, this task asks students to focus on the number relationships between what goes in the pot, and what comes out.  Each task card had an underlying strategy that students had to identify and find the rule.

Doubles Minus 1

I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of the big brain in the little body!!!  I really like the way this task (not me) was able to engage students in the Standards for Mathematical Practice.  What worked extremely well was that as students created rules for the Magic Pot they immediately tested their generalization using manipulatives.  Now don’t get me wrong here, every student in the class was not an instant Rock Star when it came to input/output tables.  In fact, there were only 2 students that were able to find the rule for Task Card 4 (see above).  There was a group of students that REALLY struggled  when it came to identifying the rule but I was super stoked to see that every student was engaged for the entire lesson.  I didn’t expect students to write an expression to represent the pattern but I did expect students to verbalize and justify their rule and about a third of the students didn’t disappoint.  Was it the best lesson I’ve ever taught…heck no!!!!  Probably not even in the top 73 lessons!!! At times it was frustrating but I learned a lot about our students and their thinking and reasoning mathematically…because I went “there” with input /output tables for strategy development.

There is no “upper grades” or” lower grade” maths!!! I keep reminding myself that math is on a continuum of learning and depending on wherever our students are, it is our job to engage them on that continuum. So why not introduce input/out tables in 1st grade?  As @mattBgomez says “Be Brave!”