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Posts tagged ‘Ten Frames’

Summertime Math Conversations

A friend and I had a wonderful opportunity to spend a day with a wonderful group of teachers who work with kids, kindergarten through grade 2. Our day was organized around three main points: developing understanding of the Standards of Mathematical Practice and what that might look like in our daily work with kids; getting organized as we begin to use a new math program; and building confidence in adjusting tasks and lessons to meet our kids’ at their current levels of mathematical thinking, reasoning, and understanding.

The mid-morning grade level conversations were organized around a game from Jamee Petersen’s book Math Games for Independent Practice. This created an opportunity to explore the impact and power of the instructional practice of creating a variety of games/tasks/activities around a specific mathematical concept, idea, or strategy.

We asked everyone to play the game Build Ten. The goal of the game is to provide an opportunity to explore the part-part-whole relationships inherent to the number 10. The game is played in groups of 2. Each pair needs a regular die-with the numbers 1 through 6, two base-ten rods, 20 base-ten cubes, and 2 work mats. Each child takes a tens rod and sets it down on his/her work mat. Player 1 rolls the die and sets out that many cubes, against the tens rod. Player 2 does the same thing. They keep doing this until one player builds ten. The two players clear their mats and play again.

The teachers all played the game a few times to gain a sense of how the game works, to have an idea of where kids might get stuck or where they might experience some confusion, and to decide what questions to ask and at what point(s) in the game. It also provided an opportunity for the teachers to experiment with how they might introduce the game to their students, what learning and understanding they want their kids gain from playing the game, and how/when/where they might use the game.

The conversation then moved on to when using the game in class what questions might you ask to help you understand how or if your students are developing specific strategies, such as, counting all, counting on, doubles, or make 10.

The final component of the morning was organized around the specific skill of adjusting a task to meet kids’ at their current levels of mathematical thinking, reasoning, and understanding. We set out a bunch of math tools: ten frames, Unifix™ cubes, centimeter cubes, rekenreks, two-color counters, and base-ten blocks. Our directions to the grade level teams were to create a task, game, or activity that offers students another opportunity to develop and use strategies for adding or subtracting whole numbers.

So, what would you choose as your focus if you were to create a new game? What tools and materials would you use? What questions would you focus on as you chatted with your students as they played the new game?

The next post will have some samples of the games and tasks that were created.

The eyes have it …

On his blog, Reflections in the Why, Chris Hunter posted some photos of eyeballs and ice cube trays.  Wonderful!  Marvelous!  Fabulous!  Had me stop what I was doing, take photos of my own stuff, and post on twitter and Instagram.  I added the obvious questions:

How many eyes do you see?  How do you see them?


AND I shared my pic with my 4-year-old nephews.  They thought it was fabulous.  We had a great lunch time conversation about how many eyes do you see and how you do you see them?  The result:  smeared peanut butter from their peanut butter sandwiches on my iPhone!!  Totally love those guys–so into math conversations at lunch that they strayed from the awesome pb and j sandwiches their dad made.  Go Jack!  Go Josh!

AND also appreciative of my photos were my colleagues who teach first grade.  We started our grade level work session with an estimation question (idea “borrowed” from Andrew Stadel at

How many eyeballs are in the jar?


The answer:


Awhile ago, I bought several bags of eyeballs.  They do not work so well as counters.  Since they are round, rolling objects, it is really difficult to use them as counters.  They do what comes natural to round, rolling objects, they roll all over the place.  Round eyeballs do not play well with ten frames; they roll right off the ten frames and onto the floor.  So, if you are working with a small group of kiddos–both the eyeballs and kids are now rolling around.


So, thanks Chris for a perfect solution.  I can now use these fabulous counters that had, until about 10 days ago, just been sitting quietly in a plastic container on a shelf in my garage.  Now, they are the object of LOTS of math conversations with kids who crack up at my current favorite questions to ask–how many eyes do you see and how do you see them?