This past week, we only had a chance to work with Mrs. Peterson’s class due to the cold weather that caused school to close on Thursday. The activity that I completed with the kids involved a worksheet that focused on comparing numbers and solving introductory addition. The students were given an addition sentence and once they read the sentence out loud then I would ask them to tell me which of the two numbers was bigger. The worksheet had hot cocoa mugs underneath each of the problems and when students determined the bigger number they were instructed to write that number in the mug and then count a corresponding number of two-colored counters to symbolize the other number in the sentence. Then as a group we would count up from the larger number that they had identified until we had as many fingers up as we had two-colored counters. I told the students that whichever numbered we stopped on would be our answer.

Something that really struck me this week was the students’ ability to compare numbers and the variety of strategies that students employed to find their answers. For some students I had to draw a number line in order for then to compare numbers, while some students were advanced enough to be able to use benchmarks and some would utilize two-colored counters to find their answer. One boy from this class was also able to use his knowledge of the number sequence to compare numbers. The addition sentence was 3+6 and when I asked him which of the numbers was larger he said six. When I asked him how he knew this he started reciting his number sequence for me starting at one. After he said the number six he said, “See six came after three.” This explanation indicates to me that this student has some sort of understanding or has knowledge of the rule that the numbers later in the sequence are larger.

Another incidence that pleasantly surprised me was how quickly students were catching on to addition facts involving adding zero or one. Several students were able to look at the problems and tell me the answer without having to use counters or the number line. When I asked a student why 2+0=2 she told me, “Miss Jackie, zero means nothing so my number isn’t going to change.” For the problem 4+1, I had a student tell me that the answer had to be five because “plus one means it’s just one more bigger.”

I’m very pleased with the progress that I have been seeing with my students and I think a lot of them, at a surface level, are really starting to understand the concept of addition!

Posted on January 27th, 2014 by Jacqueline Kreiner

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