Anyway, we had a lovely 4 day weekend and I SO needed it. I really needed to recharge my batteries and reset myself and the 4 days off did the trick. I loved spending my free time with my little peanut, I cannot believe how big she is getting. We went on play-dates, dinner dates and even on a ride on a 100 year old carousel that I used to ride as a kid. It was an amazing long weekend and I am very grateful for the extra two days off.
Since it was only 2 extra days off my kiddies did a pretty good job transitioning back into the swing of things and we really had a great day. One of my current favorite parts of my day is our math period. We are approaching the 100th day of school and my kids are so excited about it. We have spent the whole year building our hundreds chart and showing the number of days in school in various ways. The anticipation of what the 100th day will bring is exciting to them, I just hope I can live up to their expectations.
Aside from looking forward to the 100th day of school we started a new math unit last week. On average we are using Investigations in Number, Data, and Space ©2012 published by Pearson. I find it to be a very intriguing program. It's a center based hands on approach to math that I find both challenging and rewarding all in one. To help keep the kids engaged we spend two weeks in the middle of the year doing a Math in the City unit called Bunk Beds and Apple Boxes. Why do I love this unit so much? Because it's all about exploration. I am a firm believer that young children do the best learning when they are left to explore, experiment, and figure things out on their own - of course all of this is happening with a watchful eye from a teacher who is there to guide and nurture them.
So let me tell you what we have done so far:
Day 1 - I read the provided book which sets the stage for the first few Bunk Beds lessons. Through this story and an arithmetic rack the children are introduced to the idea of equivalent facts. Children get to go to their seats and explore this idea with manipulatives. Now the program suggests that the kids use math racks with partners but I have found it much more useful for the kids to use counting bears.
Day 2 - The children continue to explore the idea of how to make equivalent number sentences all equaling a special number. After this lesson we had a math congress to discuss our thinking. The kids explained and shared what they learned and we charted all the ways to make equivalent number sentences for our special number.
Day 3 (today) - I introduced the idea of a number story. Since we had an extended weekend I reviewed what we did last week and then introduced the idea of number stories. The kids had a blast using counting bears and trying to write their own stories. Typically we don't script for our kids and encourage them to write the best they could but I was curious what they could do and knew that many of my kids could verbalize their stories better than writing them so I did script a few of them.
I remembered to take some pictures today (YAY!) so here is what my kids did today:
This student has a great understanding of making a number sentence and picture to match but the idea of a number story was very difficult to her. Even when I scripted for her she struggled to understand that she had to write a story to match her picture.
Here you can see how this student is using the counting bears to help her understand the concept.
This student was also able to use the counting bears correctly to make a number sentence.
This is one of my more advanced students. When I saw that she too struggled with the idea of writing a number story I realized I did not do a good job explaining how to write a number story. I think I was so excited to get the kids working and to see what they could come up with that I didn't spend enough to explaining and giving directions with examples.
So I took a step back and explained a number story in more simpler terms:
How many bears on the top? How many bears on the bottom? How many all together?
This is what my students came up with after a better explanation:
I have to say I was super proud of my kids (and myself for realizing my "failure" and going back and fixing it ASAP!). ALL of my kids were able to write a number sentence correctly and used only 8 bears. They really did a great job with that. The majority of my kids were also able to write a word problem (once I explained it better).
I really have to say this unit is one of my favorite units to teach and I'm so excited to see how my kids do with the next few lessons. Have you ever used this math unit? What do you think about it?