March 6, 2010
March 6, 2010
Another example of some surgery, this time in first grade, as Nicole and I do our best to follow Dan's advice. After an opportunity to explore combinations of 10 with ten frames and red and green counters, the kids are presented with a problem to solve.
Here was the opening suggested by the manual:
| Could we get a student to generate the question? We were determined to find out.|
|It's an easy change to make.|
The kids came up with some interesting observations, including:
- The red apples start from low (1) and go to high (10) , and the green apples start from high (9) and go to low (0).
- The numbers 4 and 5 are missing from the red apple column and the numbers 6 and 5 are missing from the green apple column.
- There are some reversed. There's a 2 and an 8 and an 8 and a 2.
- All the different numbers (of red and green apples) add up to 10.
And the wonderings:
- Why are some numbers missing?
- Is there supposed to be a pattern?
OK, the question is not exactly there. So I combined the wondering about the missing numbers with the noticing about the numbers of red and green apples adding up to 10 to set their task: find all possible combinations of 10.
Here's what the manual wanted the teacher to give the kids:
Nicole and I decided to take a page from Tracy Zager's playbook. The plan was to pair the kids up and let them have at with counters, ten frames, and blank pieces of paper. We would stop for a mid-workshop interruption that would take the form of a gallery walk. Seeing the way their classmates organized their work might inspire students to evaluate what they were doing and perhaps modify their strategy or change course altogether.
|These two students started by writing the combinations they found as a string of digits across the paper...|
|...and after getting a chance to look at what some of their classmates were doing during the gallery walk, went back to revise their work.|
|These students started by writing number models. After the mid-workshop interruption they went back and color-coded the addends.|
|These students started out drawing red and green hearts to represent the apples, but then decided it was too time consuming and used letters.|
|Only one group opted for a table.|
There were as many variations as there were groups. But this attempt, from one of our most at-risk students, might have been my favorite:
|He wanted to work alone. Nicole and I simply were glad he was engaged with the task..|
|Hmmm. What's he doing?|
|He was content just drawing apples and counting them. Was he going to find all the different combinations of 10? No, and we didn't really care. "He's differentiating the task for himself!" observed Nicole.|
Close to 6 years, over 2,000,000 views, and 32 languages ago, Dan urged us to, "Be less helpful." What does that mean? When possible, let the students generate the question. Give them the time and space to explore the mathematics in ways that make sense to them. Watch, listen, and learn.