Sunday, December 2, 2012

Back to the Drawing Board (and a Gingerbread freebie)

Oooooh, math. Why do you hate me so?

 Things in my first grade math group were moving along just fine (or so I thought.) We completed our addition and subtraction  units in our math curriculum. The students in my small group of learning and cognitively disabled students passed both unit tests and could add, subtract, and solve simple word problems utilizing Touchpoints. We were not at mastery,  but we were making getting there. We were ready to move into related facts and fact families, and THAT'S when everything fell apart.

While working with my students last week I asked them, "What does it mean to add?". "Minus," one girl shouted. "Equals," another boy proudly stated. The third little girl stared blankly at me and offered no reply. Houston, we have a problem.

What I was doing clearly was not working. The textbook curriculum had failed them. I knew that I was going to have to rogue on this one. So I dedicated the next three weeks of math instruction to remedy their confusion.

Last Friday I made addition and subtraction anchor charts with them. I may take pictures and upload them next week for you guys if time allows. Tomorrow we start part-part-whole instruction. I made up an addition song up to help support their learning.

 (to the tune of When We All Get Together)
When you add
put groups together, together, together
when you add put groups together
This is how you add

I also have one for subtraction that I made up last year.

(to the tune of the Muffin Man)
When I see the minus sign
the minus sign, the minus sign,
When I see the minus sign,
I know I take away

I spent a good part of yesterday gathering resources to support this, but I wanted a few more activities. This morning I made a gingerbread domino par- part-whole activity. (This upcoming week is also gingerbread week in my room.) I have uploaded it to Google docs. Just click on the image below to grab your copy.

Wish me luck. I think I'm going to need it.



Kate said...

I teach a similar group of students, and we tend to have the same types of confusion. One thing that seems to help my students is adding a big kinesthetic chunk. When we are putting things together, I begin introducing the concept using hands holding manipulatives. One hand held out to one side, the other to the other side. We talk it out..."five" (stretch out the hand with 5)..."and three" ( stretch out the hand with 3" -- before we go any further, we talk about how now our body looks like a plus sign -- "is..." (bring hands together)..."eight".

For minus, we mime sweeping our hand across from left to right, the way you'd sweep things off a table, taking things away.

Hopefully some of that makes sense.

Terri Brown said...

Very cute! I too am having the same problem with my firsties, thanks for the freebie.

Heather Unger said...

Kate, thanks for the tip. I'll have to give it a try this week.

Angelia said...

Good luck next week! I've also experienced the random answers and deer in the head light looks when asking my students questions. Have you looked into Whole Brain Teaching? I started using it with my kids this year and was surprised at how well it helped them remember things. Even if they couldn't remember the answer, once I showed them the hand motion they would get it.

Extra Special Teaching

Heather Unger said...

Angelia, how did you get into Whole Brain Teaching? I know a tiny bit about it. I have visited the sight, but I am the type that wants to know all the dirty details. How does this work with students with autism? They do a lot of repeating and you-teach. Just curious how this would work for special needs kids.

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