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Time To Reflect and Connect

November 5, 2011
As a teacher, I know the importance of reflecting, but I also know that sometimes I run out of time with my students to do so. I’m determined to have more of this “reflection” time though.
In class today, we started a new math topic: money. This is usually a difficult math concept for students. Many of them know the names of the coins, or can at least match the names of the coins with the values, but making different amounts of money is challenging. Students sometimes confuse dollars and cents. They have difficulty counting by fives and tens while also adding on by ones. They also have more real-world experience dealing with dollar amounts than coin amounts, so each year, it’s like starting the money concept all over again.

With this being a more difficult math topic, I know that the reflection piece is so important. Students need to see how other students are solving money problems. They need to compare solutions, and they need to start thinking in new ways too.
Today, my Grade 1 students worked with a partner to try and come up with different ways of making 10 cents and 20 cents. My Grade 2 students worked with a partner to try and come up with different ways of making 50 cents and 100 cents. They counted together. They helped each other “count on,” and they reminded each other how to count by 5’s, 10’s, and 25’s. They applied what they just learned in our unit on counting.

I made sure to end the activity early enough though that students could see what other students did. On one group of desks I laid out the Grade 1 work, and on the other group of desks, I laid out the Grade 2 work. Students walked around and looked at the work. They counted with each other to see if the answers were correct. They compared what they did to what other students did. Then they came back to the carpet, and they discussed with the class what they observed.

Here is a Livescribe Pencast of our discussion with a screenshot of the notes that I took (I couldn’t post the page and the audio from Livescribe because I had other notes written on the page too):
It’s great to hear the students talking about the solutions that they saw and thinking of new ways to solve the problem for next time. I’m interested in seeing how this impacts on our math activities next week.
How do students reflect in your class? What impact does reflecting have on performance? I would love to hear about your experiences!

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  1. Stacia Snow permalink

    Taking time for reflection on math work can feel like a guilty pleasure with such a packed curriculum. But more and more I see how richer the learning is when students teach each other strategies. Last year, my ones ran an imaginary crab shack. We sold crab legs, kid's meals and fries. We also opened an imaginary fair with rides. My returning students who are now twos keep asking to “re-open” the crab shack this year. They loved making money in their imaginary restaurants…especially when they received their vacation pay!

  2. Wow! I love the idea of a crab shack. You have me thinking now. Thanks Stacia!


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