Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Gift of Gab and Math Practices

What do I love about the green holiday other than the color? Storytelling. My favorite story to tell (in an atrocious accent, mind you) is about the leprechaun that tricks the farmer by tying ribbons to all the shrubs so he can’t find the pot of gold. Even more, I love when the students get into the storytelling. They love making up stories about leprechauns, pots of gold and rainbows. This is a great day for the author's chair. Everyone can participate whether they are emerging or established writers. What a natural next step … to create addition and subtraction story problems.

Students can use “gold pieces” they cut out or yellow counters. Have them draw a pot on a whiteboard or use a familiar classroom tool like part-part-whole mats. Each partner takes a turn telling the other a story problem. For some, it is as simple as Put 5 pieces in the pot. Take 2 out. How many are left? Others put the story in story problem. The partner showing the problem then tells the addition or subtraction number sentence.

Another fun game with the pieces is to have 1 partner put out a handful of coins. (They can choose the problem, roll a die to get the starting number or rely on the size of their hands.) They count the coins. Then the other partner closes his/her eyes. The first partner (leprechaun) hides a few pieces. The second partner solves to find out how many were taken. What strategies will they use? If there are only a few coins to start with, do they use their fingers to count down? There were 5. There are 3 left. I fold down three and the leprechaun took two. Do they hold the number left in their heads and count up? There were ten so I have to count up to ten. There are 7 left. 7 in my head. 7, 8, 9, 10. The leprechaun took 3. Do they visualize the pieces in their heads? Do they use math tools? Do they persevere in solving?

With all this fun, do they even know how many mathematical practices they have engaged in? It is a piece of gold in itself.


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