Group #1 | 20 minutes
"So, here's something. Math isn't just about numbers, it's about finding patterns. If you get one rod of each color I wonder what kinds of patterns you'll find?"
"Can you describe what you made?""Well, the underneath one goes biggest to smallest and so I reversed it on the top."
"How many whites make a red?
"So, if white is worth one, how much is green?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, if red is two whites, and you add another white, how many is that?"
"Oh! Three! Green is three!"
"What kinds of patterns or designs can we make using only the first five rods: white, red, green purple, yellow?"
"Your design looks like it's the same on both sides. Can you tell me more about how you made it?""Well, I started in the middle and built out."
"Hey everyone, come here! What do you notice about the pattern that is showing up on this design?"
"I see those white blocks in every corner."
"How do you describe that line running from corner to corner?""Diagonal!"
"Okay, one minute left. Time to clean up!"
"Awww...I just gotta put down one more block..."
What's awesome is that these designs were made by the kids whose relationships with written numerals are not happy ones and yet, it's not for a lack of ability in noticing patterns or structure. At the end of this session they all left with smiles on their faces, saying "That was fun!" We will continue with colorful and visual math because it's fun and I am fairly confident that this process, in the end, can be helpful in shoring up that bridge between mathematical meaning and symbols/abstraction. p.s. This bin of Cuisenaire rods is now on their game shelf for free-time play with the following label:
Group #2 | 20 minutes
Group #2 came in buzzing. Their teacher had given them the two different multiplication charts I had laminated for every student and they couldn't stop talking about the archetype times tables from crebobby.com. (See my post Marvelously Math-y Mondays for all the details and links).
Back in the classroom, I guess the enthusiasm for the archetype times tables had become unbearable and their teacher had to hand out the 'make your own' sheets I created. His biggest goal/hope, I think, was for them to become more familiar with how a grid works in combining/multiplying numbers.
I think this make-your-own thing might have helped a lot in terms of learning to track rows and columns!
Energy and enthusiasm during math time! It makes a heart glad.