Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A peek into our day

I hope that everyone's new year is off to a great start! We got right back into the swing of things when students came back yesterday...we have lots of learning to do. But, many students have seem tired the last couple of days--it's hard getting back into a routine sometimes! Here are just a couple of the MANY things happening in first grade right now...

Children have been learning how to use base-10 blocks to represent numbers during math time. Today we extended this knowledge to help do two-digit addition. Base-10 blocks are an extremely valuable visual to help children understand place value and to develop better number sense. Today, I posed number stories using animals and their heights or weights and we discussed strategies to add two-digit numbers. Below, you can get a glimpse of the process we used with the aide of the document camera and interactive whiteboard.

First the student showed the two numbers using base-10 blocks: 24 and 35 in a "parts and total diagram" on a paper plate--a useful visual.
He then put all the base-10 blocks together--10s in a group, 1s in a group--and counted them to find the total--59. 24+35=59
This type of modeling in a concrete way will help children prepare for completing partial sums in upcoming years. For example, 24 can be rounded down to 20 and 35 to 30: 20+30=50. Then you take the remaining "ones" and add them: 5+4=9. You then take the total of the tens, 50 and the total of the ones, 9, and add them to get 50+9=59. 
In this example, students learned that it's easiest to trade 1s whenever possible--we took ten of the ones cubes and traded it for a 10s stick. This made it much easier to count the blocks to see that the number 91 is the sum.
On a completely different note, I have noticed that many students are having difficulty either with writing the letters b and d correctly and/or distinguishing b vs. d when reading. We are spending some time at my SWR station this week to work on proper letter formation for b and d and tricks to help us remember which is which.

Students seem to like practicing in our handwriting notebooks. Many students are learning to break the habit of starting letter formation from the bottom up--I am trying to instill that we always start our letters from the top. 

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