Category Archives: 2nd grade

2nd Grade – Even and Odd

Yesterday, I brainstormed my plan for the 2nd grade lesson I taught today. I started by giving each pair of students a set of things to count and I asked them to explain how they counted and why they chose to count that way. I was excited to see such a variety of counting strategies such as 2’s, 5’s 10’s and then combinations of all of these. As I walked around, this is what I saw…

As a whole group, we shared strategies for counting and the students discussed how they combined the numbers. I then had them switch their container with another group. They were all mixed up so they didn’t know how many were in the new container. With this container of objects, I asked them to see if they could split the contents into two equal groups.

I don’t know if my thinking is even on track here, but since Tara had mentioned students were struggling determining whether a number could be divided equally into two parts without physically passing out each one, I thought having students think about the ways in which they count in comparison to splitting a number in half, could be helpful here. For example if a student is trying to divide 42 into two equal teams, he or she could think that two 20’s would be 40 and 2 left over to give to each 20 to make 21. Or even four 10’s and 2 ones, so each team gets two 10’s and then a one from the two leftover. Like I said, I could be completely off-base but it proved to be an interesting trial!

As I walked around I saw some really cool halving going on!

This group did a visual split symmetrically and then each counted their “half” and then they passed them back and forth until they had the same amount. Like a guess and check. It seems something like finding half of 46….”I know it is 20-something, so you take 20, I have 26, here take 1 of mine, now it is 21 and 25, so take 2 more of mine and now we each have 23.”


I saw the completely symmetrical works. not counting at all, they just lined them up by twos and said their plan was to “push the two rows apart.” It seems like counting by 2’s to get to 46 and then seeing how many times you had to do that.


This group did what I was hoping to connect to the counting they did earlier. They grouped them in 10’s and then split them in half. They ended up having an odd number and wanted to put that in decimals so bad. There was a lot of .5 talk. So interesting! IMG_1253.jpg

Then I saw a student who counted them by one’s and then divided the number he got in half. (The top part is is counting group, the bottom is the halving of a different number.)


We ended with a journal entry on any similarities and/or differences we saw between the counting and the dividing into two groups. Sadly, I had to leave to go down and teach Kindergarten, so I have to pop back up to check out their journals tomorrow. I think that could be a great place for Tara to start tomorrow and then do a number talk about splitting a number into two equal groups.

I still have to think on this lesson more. I learned a lot about how the students count in 2nd grade, which after being in a Kindergarten class was really fantastic and I loved the way they saw symmetry in sets. That was beautiful. However, I think there are are some other great connections to be made here but I am not sure it was helpful connections for everyone. Most students seemed to have some great strategies for halving so I am wondering what they took away from this? I have to pop back up tomorrow and see what the journals say to see if I can get a better read on the class.


Planning K-5, literally

Tomorrow I have the opportunity to teach a Kindergarten, 2nd and 5th grade class! It is so exciting and interesting to be thinking across all of the grade levels in one day of lesson planning! The most interesting part for me, in thinking through this, is the connections across all of the grades. There is so much potential for conjecture and claim-making supported by their development of proofs.

Background: The 5th and 2nd grade teachers are out at a state math teacher leader meeting so I am teaching instead of the substitute. The kindergarten teacher and I will be teaching it together. I have met with each teacher to chat about where they are within their units and what they have been seeing students do within the current work. I invited teachers both at those grade levels and at other grade levels to pop in if they have the time. I thought it would be great having more people to reflect with after the lessons!

5th Grade: They have just started working with finding a fraction of a fraction using bar models. The initial work is unit fraction of a unit fraction and then moves to non-unit. (My post on that from a couple of years ago on this work, I wish I had done that better, so here is a chance to try something new;) Leigh, the teacher, says they have been really successful in partitioning the bars and arriving at the correct answer. I am thinking about starting with a number routine of either a choral count or a number talk string like 1/2 of 12 = __ of 24… As far as the lesson, I could continue work with this and have students look at noticings after and explore them deeper.They have done these noticings with whole number times a fraction or mixed number, so this could be a revisiting of similarities or differences. OR I could do this cornbread task as a formative assessment as the next piece they will move into is an area model. It may be really helpful for Leigh to see how they are thinking about this before they jump into the work. This is my least planned because I keep bouncing all around with ideas.

2nd Grade: They have been working with even and odd numbers and counting by groups of 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s.  All of this work is within contexts of break a group of students into equal teams or everyone having a partner. Tara, the classroom teacher, said the students are really great at determining whether a number is odd or even, however when asked how many would be on each team, a lot of students struggle. They are great if they know a related double fact, however if they don’t they resort to “passing out” by tallies or drawing the picture and physically dividing the number of things in half. For example, if they do not know 11+11 is 22, then finding the number of on each team become passing out 22 things into two groups to find 11. While they are successful in this, Tara and I were wondering why they do not say 10+10=20 and 1+1=2 so 11+11=22. They are able to add 11 and 11 but unable to decompose it as fluently.

In thinking about this, I am inclined to want to connect that addition to halving. I am thinking a counting collection would be fabulous for this. Give students a collection of things to count. Share how we counted them because I am positive they will not count them by 1’s given a large set. We can share as a whole group, record ways in which we counted and determined if our number was even or odd. Then, put the collection back together, switch with a partnering team and then split the collection into two groups. The share would be, “Could you make two equal groups?” “Was your number even or odd? How did you know?” Record strategies. Ask for noticings/wonderings about how they counted and how they divided into two groups.

Kindergarten: The students in this class have been doing a lot of work with ten frames, dot images, counting jars, etc and having students counting and adding to compose a number. They have just begun working on decomposition of number so I immediately thought about the mice activity in Thinking Mathematically. Linda, the teacher, and I planned to do this activity with the students. In preparation, we read NCTM TCM’s article by Zachary M. Champagne, Robert Schoen, and Claire M. Riddell, Variations in Both Addends Unknown Problems. We are going to use 6 bunnies and see how students show all of the ways the bunnies can be inside and outside in a pen. Instead of just giving a context, I was imagining that the students may need a visual of the rabbit pen so I created this image to launch with a quick notice and wonder:

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We will then let the students work on finding the different ways in partners and then come back for a whole group share and record the ideas on the board. We are really looking to see two things….1-how they organize their information and 2- the strategies they use. The students will do a notice/wonder about the recorded information. If there is time it would be great to see if students, when given a different number, would apply any of the strategies and/or organizational tools shared.

Going for a run to think through this a bit more! Would love any thoughts/suggestions, as always!



2nd Grade Lesson Follow Up

Over the past few days I have been blogging about my 2nd grade planning, teaching and reflecting. Today was the follow up lesson…

This morning, I popped in the classroom to chat with Lauren, the classroom teacher, to catch her up on the lesson and chat for a bit about where we could go from here. I was so excited to hear she had read the post yesterday so we could pick up our conversation with the student work! We looked through the student work samples and struggled with how to structure the share…. should she just focus on one question or look at both? We decided to start with showing two student work examples  (and having the students explain how they solved it) from the same question that were different in how they represented and grouped their numbers to count, but ended with the same answer. After the class shared what things were the same and different about their way they solved it, we were planning on sending them off with a group who did the same question as they did and look for all the similarities and differences. In this, we were hoping students would start to notice how others grouped their numbers and move some of the students who are still drawing every picture and counting by one’s forward in their thinking.

I had to leave to go meet with another teacher, but after Lauren opened the lesson like we had planned and took her students to recess, (that is that weird split in their schedule that we usually hate but worked out well here) she came down to talk really quick. It seems that the class could not express similarities or differences beyond the “sameness” of their answers or representations they had drawn. And while, in the moment, I thought this was such a difference between 2nd and 5th graders. However, as I reflected later on, I recalled this same thing happening with my 5th graders last year!

We knew sending them off, as we had planned, would be ending with the same level of conversation, so we started brainstorming! How could we get them to look at HOW the strategies varied in process and not just look at the numbers and same answer? It is such a difficult thing to relate to the thinking of others, and it probably doesn’t help that the work and drawings were all over the place! Excuse the sloppy mess, but we decided to take strategies we had seen in the students work and frame it as work that Lauren and I had done in solving the problem and ask them to connect those! Then we added in a third teacher’s thinking from across the hall. You can vaguely see the pink counting by ones, the next by 2’s and then 4’s and 2’s, hoping students would think about how the numbers formed different-sized groups.  I took a pic of this, texted it to Lauren so she could have it back in her room and she had to run to pick them up from recess! FullSizeRender 21.jpg

After my afternoon meeting, I popped back in to see what happened! She said they did so amazing seeing the similarities and differences when it was written out like we had done. For the first time we were asking them to do this work while looking at student work, I probably should have thought about how to better structure the “look” of the work.

Lauren said after the share she asked them to find the number of eyes in the 7 people, 2 dog problem thinking about what they had just shared. i just got to catch a few of their work samples, but it was already so amazing to see the movement from drawing everything to different groupings. This is where I wonder if students just need to have the permission to now “show their work” in ways that are not pictures? I am not sure but something I am thinking about. Here were a few samples of the new problem, I can’t wait to chat with Lauren about it more tomorrow!



2nd Grade Counting,Unitizing, & Combining

The other day, I began writing up my lesson plan for a second grade class I was teaching today. I drafted the lesson, got feedback, revised and ended with this plan, around the 5 Practices, going into the classroom today.

I started the lesson, as I planned, with the students on the carpet like they typically are for a Number Talk. I wrote the sentence “There are 12 people in the park.” on the board and asked them to give me a thumbs up if they could give me a math question I could ask and solve from that statement. A couple students shared after a bit of wait time and I was getting a lot of even/odd talk or questions that involved adding more information to my original sentence. I asked them to turn and talk and one little girl next to me said they could find the number of legs. When I called the group back together I asked her to share her conversation with her partner and after that, hands shot up like crazy. It ended with a board that looked like this…


I asked them if we could think about any of these in the same way? I tried to underline the “same thoughts” in the same color, but they started making connections that is got a bit mixed. A lot of there conversation turned to numbers and so I started a new slide and asked what numbers they thought of when they read those problems and why. I recorded what they were thinking…


I really liked this opening talk (15ish minutes) and really didn’t want to let them go when it was time for their recess break in the middle of math class. So, they lined up and left for 30 minutes.

When they got back, we recapped the numbers and then I gave two groups question #1 and the other two groups question #2. They had individual time to get started and then they worked as a group to share their thinking. Knowing that I was going to be trading seats at groups for them to share their problem with another table, I was walking around looking for varying strategies so I didn’t trade seats and have a whole table who solved it all the same way.

They did a beautiful job working in their original group. I saw students who had different answers for the same problem talking out their strategies and arriving at a common answer. I saw students practicing how they were going to explain it to the new table they visited. I saw students who were stuck working through the problem with their tablemates. I can tell there is such a safe culture established by Lauren, the homeroom teacher. They trade seats, shared their problem and then I had to readjust my plans.

At this point, I wanted the tables talking about what was the same and/or different about the two problems but I was running out of time. In order to pick up with that conversation tomorrow, I decided to have them come to the carpet and I chose two papers (of the same problem) that had the same answer but different strategies. I asked the students privately if they would want to share and they were both excited so I put them both under the document camera and had them explain their work. I thought they was similar enough for students to easily see they both drew the figures out but as I walked around I heard the 1st student counting each one by ones and the 2nd student counting by twos after he wrote the equation. I had them explain their work and asked the class to think about what was the same and what was different and we discussed it. Here are the two I chose:

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They pointed out all of the similar things such as feet, people, two’s (but were counted differently), and the same answer. The difference was the equation which was an important thing to come up. I saw quite a few students with the correct answer but incorrect equation. A lot arrived at 22 by counting by wrote 7+2 as their equation so that was an important thing that a student pointed out.

I only had 5 minutes left, so I decided to collect their papers and pick up with the sequencing and connections tomorrow. Which I kind of love because it gives me time to be more thoughtful about how they should share them and also time to talk to their teacher about what I saw today.

So, from my previous plan, I am picking up here:

Practice 4: Sequencing

In the share, after each group has presented to the other groups, we will come to the carpet for a share. The sharing will be sequenced in the way I discussed in the Selecting part, asking students during each student work sample how it is similar and different than the ones we previously shared.

Practice 5: Connecting 

The connecting I see happening through my questioning as we share strategies. I am still working on writing this part out and looking for the connections that can be made, aside from the picture to number representation connections.

The connections I would love to see students making throughout the work and sharing, is how we can combine equal groups. For example I would like the student who is drawing ones and counting them all to move to seeing those ones grouped as a 2 or a 5 depending on the context. I would love the student who is seeing the five 1’s as one group of 5 to now see that if they have 2 of them it will make a 10 and if we have 4 of them we would have 20 and really start looking at different ways to combine those groups. 

The problem I am seeing in this plan is the differences in the two problems. As I sit here with the papers all over the table, I am struggling to make a sequence involving both problems. So, do I sequence a set for each problem and give each 1/2 of the class time to talk about the similarities and differences? or just choose one problem and go with that?

For problem 1, I like this sequence in moving from counting by 1’s to grouping them and then to the finding half of 34.

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For question 2, I see this sequence from pictures to grouping them by people and dogs, the third shows the 8 composed but broken apart on the number line and the paper before it, and the last one starting at 14.

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I collected their papers and asked them, in their journals, think about how many people and dogs there could be in the park if I just told them there were 28 legs. I thought that after their share tomorrow of this problem it would lead them into a nice problem from which some great patterns could arise. Here were a few I grabbed before I left:

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and this last one was getting at some really great stuff as she got stuck at 9 people and couldn’t figure out the number of dogs. I asked her to write what she was telling me!

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Looking back, I would have probably chosen just one problem to work with to make it more manageable in sequencing and making connections during the share. Having two problems was nice as far as having them explain it to others, so I like that, but I am wondering if we did #1 through this process and then split for questions for #2 and #3.

I look forward to hearing how it goes tomorrow!



2nd Grade Collaborative Planning Using the 5 Practices

This Tuesday, I am teaching a 2nd grade lesson for a teacher who will be out that day. I offered to this for all of the teachers if my schedule permitted. I thought it was a great way for me to learn more about each grade level, possibly plan and teach it with other grade level teachers for that lesson, and it saves having to use a “sub plan” lesson which we all know either leaves us with more papers to grade or even worse, having to redo when we return. After doing this same type of thing for a 3rd grade classroom last week, and getting great suggestions in the comments after the lesson, I thought this time I would try throwing it out there before I taught it. I would love to see how this lesson could take shape with the input ahead of time!

Lately, I have seen a lot of tweets regarding using the 5 Practices when planning. Now, while I don’t use them to the extent the book lays out for every lesson (because, you know, time), I do always have them playing in the back of my mind when I plan. So, I am going to plan here, one piece at a time, using the 5 Practices. I will pose my questions where I have stopped and look forward to feedback in the comments!

Here is a little background information…

The Investigations Unit Summary:
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I see the CCSS highlighted most in this lesson:

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 1.58.21 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-15 at 1.58.32 PM

Up to this point the students have been doing a lot of addition/subtraction story problems and sharing of strategies, counting by equal groups, and working with evens/odds. In their work with evens/odds they have been deciding if numbers can form two equal teams or if they allow each person to have a partner. As of a week ago, this was the class noticings around even/odd:

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The lesson I am planning is structured as a workshop in which one piece calls for the students to individually solve the following pages, however I am thinking I want to turn these two pages into the lesson because I think they could lead to some amazing thinking!

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Practice 0: Mathematical Goal

[Planning 1]Students use equal groups when thinking about a context. I am not sure if this is too broad, but there is so much here. What I would really love to see is students moving beyond drawing each one out and counting by 1’s but I am also so interested to see how multiplication and division show their beginnings here! 

[Final Plan] After a conversation with a colleague, my goal for the lesson is for students to begin unitizing the equal groups when combining the groups. I also have this subgoal of proportional reasoning when thinking about people/eyes or dogs/legs.

Practice 1: Anticipating 


[1st Planning Thought] Before moving on here, I need to decide whether to focus on both pages or just focus my planning on one or two problems. Although they all involve equal groups, I am wondering if focusing on a particular one brings out more conversations and connections between the ways in which we can count? I am leaning to #4, but I it would be helpful for me to also see how they think about 1-3 before thinking about the share of #4. OR, do I leave 4 for the next day after gathering info and sharing strategies together for 1-3?

[2nd/Final Planning] I am thinking now that I am going to launch with a simple sentence of “There are 12 people” and ask student what problems we could solve based on that sentence. Talk about ears, eyes, fingers, legs…etc and then how we could represent our work. I am thinking to not actually DO the math but write the ways as a reference back at their seats. For example, “Draw pictures, Use numbers, Use cubes, Write equations, Use words, Use tables…etc” In planning with another 2nd grade teacher today, we saw that “show your work” at the top pushed some students back to pictures when they were not necessary.

After this, I am going to have 1/2 of the class working (in groups) on problem 1 and the other half on 2. Before they jump right into group work, however, I will ask them to take individual think time to get into the problem. After the groups have arrived at an answer, I will  have a couple students swap seats and explain to the new table how they arrived at their answer. They will then discuss what was the same and different about their problems and ways they solved their problems. After they share among tables, I will bring them to the carpet for a group discussion about these similarities and differences. 

Practice 2: Monitoring

During the work at their seats, I will be walking around, and asking questions when necessary to generate conversation (I don’t know this class as well as I would my own so I do not know what to expect as far as conversation) and looking at strategies.  Questions: How did you arrive at your answer? Does everyone at the table agree ? Where do you see [the ears, people, eyes, fingers] in your work? Is there an equation to match your work? 

Again, after discussing this with a colleague, I will not only be monitoring student understandings but also monitoring for which students to switch and share. I would not want students with the same strategies to switch and not have anything to build upon so this is a great opportunity to structure a better situation for conversation.

Practice 3: Selecting

I will choose papers based on a variety of strategies that build along a trajectory. I would like to see students who drew out the problem by 1’s, 2’s, 4, 5’s or 10’s, then others who used one group to represent the 2’s,4’s, 5’s, or 10’s (unitizing), then students who used equations or number operations w/o the pictures. 

Practice 4: Sequencing

In the share, after each group has presented to the other groups, we will come to the carpet for a share. The sharing will be sequenced in the way I discussed in the Selecting part, asking students during each student work sample how it is similar and different than the ones we previously shared.

Practice 5: Connecting 

The connecting I see happening through my questioning as we share strategies. I am still working on writing this part out and looking for the connections that can be made, aside from the picture to number representation connections.

The connections I would love to see students making throughout the work and sharing, is how we can combine equal groups. For example I would like the student who is drawing ones and counting them all to move to seeing those ones grouped as a 2 or a 5 depending on the context. I would love the student who is seeing the five 1’s as one group of 5 to now see that if they have 2 of them it will make a 10 and if we have 4 of them we would have 20 and really start looking at different ways to combine those groups. 

For the journal, I will give them the scenario that there are people and dogs in the park and 28 legs, how many of each could there be? This will offer multiple solutions (Thanks Simon) and allow for them to see some great patterns the following day!

I will let you know how it goes!

Follow up Post #1

Follow up Post #2




My Week In The 2nd & 3rd Grade Math Classroom

While I am loving my new role as the school math specialist, I am definitely finding that my blogging has taken a bit of a slide. I have come to realize that my main inspirations for blogging is having a class every day in which I am thinking things through with and the student work that is the result. Working in various classrooms around the building does not offer that consistent look at student work, but I am SO excited to see so many teachers in my building using student math journals! I think they are finally starting to get used to me snapping pics of all of that great student work at the end of class!

This week, I had the chance to plan and teach with second and fifth grade teachers and do number talks in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classrooms! Ahhhh…finally student talk and work that gets me excited to learn and inspires me to blog!:)

Second Grade:

Our second grade begins the year with Unit 3 of Investigations which centers around addition, subtraction and the number system. What the teachers and I realized, during the lesson we planned, was that, while the students did an amazing job adding and were finished fairly quickly, they all used primarily one strategy and if they did use a second one, they did see it as different.

The majority of the students decomposed both numbers and combined the tens and ones like the top two strategies of this student:

IMG_0743When asked to show another way, he quickly did the third strategy. Walking around the room, the teacher and I saw many others thinking in the same way as the third strategy but intricately different.

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IMG_0746Thinking in terms of the 5 Practices, we monitored and selected a progression of papers to elicit connections between strategies, however what we found is that as students shared, the others were saying, “I did it the same way, I just broke it apart.” They didn’t see a difference in breaking both numbers or breaking one number or then how they thought about the decomposition and combining of the partial sums. We left class with that spinning in our heads….”It is wonderful they can use a strategy to add, but how do we get them to see the differences in each and think about when one may be more efficient than another?” and for me, being new to second grade math, “How important is it that they do? and Why?” The following class period, which I could not be there due to a meeting, the teacher began creating an anchor chart of strategies as students discussed them and pushed them to see the similarities and differences of each. I am still thinking through the importance of these connections and realizing I have so much to learn!!

3rd Grade

In third grade this week, I was asked by a teacher if to come and do an addition number talk with her class. That took no thought, of course I jumped at the chance to chat math with them! I realized both before and after how much easier it was for me to plan for my 5th graders because I knew them and, due to experience, could anticipate fairly well what they would do with problems. I chose a string of addition problems that, while open to any strategies, encouraged the use of friendly numbers. I forget the exact string now, but something like 39 + 43 and 53 + 38. After being in second grade a few days before, it was interesting to see the same decomposition of both numbers to tens and ones and recombining of them. I am beginning to think that is the easiest, most instinctual way for them to do problems because they CAN do it other ways, they just jump right to that first! We did three problems together, and while the use of friendly numbers did emerge, it was definitely not the instinctual choice of the class. I left them with one problem to do “as many ways as they could in their journal (WOOHOO, they have math journals). I went back later to have them explain some of their strategies and take a look at their work.

I was excited to see that while many started with tens/ones, they had a wide variety of thinking around the problem:


Of course there are always a couple that leave you thinking….

In his verbal explanation, this one said he, “Multiplied 35 times 2 because he knew that 30 and 30 made 60 and the two 5’s made 10 so that was 70. Then he added the 14 to get 84.” When he first started talking, I had no idea where he was going and was honestly prepared to hear an incorrect answer at the end. I asked him to write out his thinking and he gave me this great response:


I know we need to be aware of his use the equal sign and make that a point in future number talks, but that thinking is soo interesting. He saw he had two 35’s, one of which within the 49 and then 14 leftover once he used it in his multiplication. Great stuff!

This one I need to hear more about from the student. He said he subtracted from 100 on a number line to end at 84. I asked him why he subtracted and he said he knew he needed to get from 100 to 84. I was confused but in the midst of the class, I didn’t think it was the time to go deeper with this one. I can’t tell if it is connections to things they are working on in class with 100 or something else?IMG_0762

I still have to blog about the 4th and 5th grade fun, but this is getting long already! I will save that for tomorrow!


Second Grade Number Talk

This was the first week of school and the very first number talk these students had done this year! From the excitement in the room and this poster on the wall, however, you can tell they have done them before…


This string was to see some of the strategies they had used before and how they were thinking about organization, decomposition and notation. I included my reasoning for choosing each one under the image.

Image 1:


I was curious to hear so many things in this first one. I wanted to see if the students saw the numbers in particular ways such as: 4 on top and 3 on bottom, subitize the die 4 to the left then the 3, or 6 and 1 more. After they saw them, how do they combine? Do they “just know” 4+3 or 6 +1, do they count up, do they count all? I was also curious to hear if any students reorganized the dots to fill the five on the top row to create 5 +2. And then do they combine them 5,6,7 or do they know 5 and 2 more is 7 right away?  I was so impressed to hear the students do all of the things I anticipated very quickly and were very comfortable with writing equations, explaining the thinking, expressing where they made a mistake and talking to one another. Yeah K and 1 for building that community, it showed! 

Image 2:


On this one I was curious to hear all of the same things from the first one, but to also hear how they see/think about teen numbers. Do they move the dots to make the 10 and why do they do that? Do they know 8+4 and don’t think about moving the dots? How do they know it is 8 and 4…is it because of 5 and some more or because of the missing boxes to make the 10 or the 5?

Again, all of the things I anticipated came out, however one little girl started explaining how she started by counting the empty boxes so I completely thought it was going to be 20 – 8 =12, however it did not go there.  She did get to 8 empty boxes but then said, “so then I moved two up to make 10…” Ha, not where I saw that going!

Image 3:


Building on what I learned from the first two, I wanted to see if and how they combined 10’s and then added on the extra dots. I didn’t make the 5 a neat row on the bottom because I wanted to see how they organized them. I was excited to see that as soon as I flashed the image the first time, all of their eyes went right to the bottom ten frame. That let me know that once they saw a full ten, they could just keep going and it would be easy to add that on at the end. The students shared their thinking and then I wanted to focus on the 20 + 5 = 25 and 10 + 10 + 5 = 25. Having recently read/reread Connecting Arithmetic to Algebra and Thinking Mathematically, I am really interested in how students in the younger grades build this foundation for algebra. So I told them i was going to write an equation and I wanted them to tell me whether it was true or false and give me a thumbs up or thumbs down on it. I wrote 20 + 5 = 10 + 10 + 5. I was completely anticipating the majority to say false because they are used to seeing one number after the equal sign, so I was SO excited to see more than 75% of the class with their thumbs up. I asked them share why and many students said because the 10 and 10 are the same as the 20 on the other side and the five stayed the same on both sides. Others said because it is 25 on both sides so that is the same. This was such an interesting thing to think about for me…some student look for balance (equal on both sides) while others look to make them look the same on both sides (the 20 is the 10 + 10), a little bit different in my mind. 

After the talk, I was SOOOO excited to see that Miss Robertson was starting math journals this year so we came up with a double ten frame (the first one with 9 dots and the second with 7 dots) for the students to explain how they think about the dots? What things to they look for or do to find the number?

Here were some of their responses that I thought we so interesting and leaves me wanting to chat with them about their work!!


I loved so many things about this one. The “10” in a different color makes me feel like that student thinks there is something really special about that 10. Although she numbered them by ones, I don’t think that is how she found the 16, but I would like to chat with her more. I wonder if she wrote 9+7 but then filled in the answer after she moved and solved the 10+6=16? 

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This was so exciting because it was one of Miss Robertson’s ELL students and look at all of that writing!! While there is no answer, there is the expression, 5+4+4+3 at the top which shows me how he is seeing the dots. He went on explain about a 10, but I did not capture the back of the paper…grrrr… stupid me. I will have to go back to this one! 


I was amazed to see so many students write both equations and with such an articulate explanation of the process. I expected, if a student moved a dot, to just see 10+6=16 written. Like this:


But it was interesting the student in the first one wrote both! I am so excited for Miss Robertson to try a number string with them without the ten frames to see what they do with that! 


This student showed how they thought about the dots in each ten frame and then at the bottom shows beautifully how he combined 9+7. Under the 7 you can see the decomposition to 6 and 1, how lovely. The bottom thought string needs to be something to think about moving forward as teachers. Making explicit the meaning of the equal sign. 


Ok, I am obsessed with this one and I need to talk to this student one more time! I am so curious why this student chose 3’s. Did he see 3’s to start or did he know something about 9 being able to be broken into 3’s? I  could completely see that if the top ten frame looked like 3’s or they were circled like the bottom one and the 3’s to the right were grouped together, however they are circled like he was counting off by 3’s by going down to the next row. Would he have done the same thing if the top ten frame was 8? In my head I am feeling like the student knew that 9 could be three 3’s, thirds, by the way it is circled. I don’t know if that is something students think about at all, so I am so curious. Or do students “see” threes but then circle them in a different way then they saw them?

Now, onto my 1st and 5th grade experiences yesterday….I am not going to be able to keep up with these K-5 blogging ideas this year…so much great stuff!