Posted on November 19, 2017
In this blog, Mrs. Balubar, first-grade math teacher, and Mr. Royo, second-grade math teacher, will highlight current math experiences in each grade level.
First Grade Mathematicians...
While the children do have a specific time of day set aside to focus on learning and exploring math concepts and skills, math truly permeates all aspects of daily life. This is an understanding that is essential for children to grasp so that they do not see math as something they only do during math class but see math as a way of interacting with the world around them.
To begin our unit on measurement, we tapped on this type of thinking, asking the children to think of experiences they have had in the "real world" with measuring. The children were hesitant at first, replaying experiences in their minds and considering how those experiences might connect to the concept of measuring. Then Saige excitedly raised her hand and started off the discussion with her example of helping with the laundry. "When I help fold laundry I have to measure the socks to make sure that the long socks go together and the short socks go together." This idea sparked the other children's thinking, as more hands flew into the air and more experiences were shared. We compiled the ideas, which included Tayla and Paxton's experience of measuring their height at the doctor's office, Reece and Flora's account of measuring their feet while shopping for shoes, and Wesley's observations of mom measuring the doorway to ensure the right size of materials was purchased for home repairs. How exciting to hear all of the connections the children were able to make between measurement and their own lives!
The children then got to the business of measuring. To start, the children used string and then unifix cubes as a non-standard way to measure objects in our classroom. Starting with the string helped the children focus in on comparing shorter and longer lengths and practice the skill of matching up the measurement tool with the object.
Unifix cubes allowed the children to build their understanding of measurement by working with a familiar material and build the concept that a larger number represents a longer length and a smaller number represents a shorter length. At first, the children started off measuring short objects at their tables and around the room (markers, pencils, erasers). Then they branched out into measuring longer and longer items. Although they were recording their measurements individually, they naturally teamed up as they realized they needed the support of their peers to measure long objects like the length of the table or the carpet, and especially in measuring one another!
After spending time gaining a solid understanding of using cubes to measure, we have shifted the focus to using standard measurement. The children have begun using inch rulers to measure. As we continue to relate measurement to the "real world," the children have taken on the role of fishermen and fisherwomen, who must adhere to size limit guidelines when catching fish. After "catching" a fish, the children must measure it to determine if it is long enough to be a "keeper" or if it is too short, and must be released back into the ocean. The children have thoroughly enjoyed taking on this fishing role and using it as an opportunity to develop their skills in using rulers to determine length and to compare the length of their fish with the size limit.
We encourage you to continue to support your child with measuring in the "real world." A letter has gone home in the first graders math folders that contains suggestions for activities and literature that will build up your child's measurement skills and understandings.
Second Grade Mathematicians...
After a few weeks of learning about the characteristics of shapes such as triangles, squares and rectangles, the students have shifted their focus to splitting shapes into fractional parts.
We began by having discussions of the meaning of one half. Students solved story problems in which they partitioned single objects that represent geometric shapes (squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons, and circles) into halves. They shared their solutions and were introduced to the idea that halves of the same whole are not always the same shape.
Additionally, the class has been investigating different ways to fold a square to make four equal parts and compare differently shaped fourths. In the coming weeks, students will use flags as context to be introduced to thirds. They will partition rectangular flags into fractional parts and discuss how to partition a circle into thirds.