Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Decomposing Numbers!

Hey Kinder Friends,
I have to say this year in my class we are loving math. We ALL love it. And we are moving right along and reaching our goals. Before our break we were hot and heavy into decomposing numbers. We took it slow in the beginning and worked with objects and manipulative mats.
In the beginning, we all worked on decomposing the same number. We would gather together and discuss what we discovered using our mats. Our discussions usually started off like this.
A 6 (or the number we were working on) can be...
It did not take long for everyone in the class to chime in with the various combinations. Using the mats, even the reluctant participant was able to chime in to our discussion. We noticed that sometimes we decompose numbers they same way as our friends and sometimes we come up with something different. You could see the wheels turning for a few of the kids as they were trying to quickly figure out just how many ways a certain number could be decomposed.
Our whole group session ended with reading a book. I picked an old favorite from the beginning of the year so that we could read the counting book and stop along the way and chart our understanding of what we had been talking about for the last few days. I was surprised to see the combinations that they remembered from the hands-on experiences we had. The light went off for some children as they realized that when two numbers were reversed, a new combination was created and they quickly realized that zero and the number they were decomposing was also a combination too! Charting our responses and checking for understanding along with our discussions, really helped everyone see the flexibility in numbers and how numbers can be made in different ways. And before long our discussion grew to talking about a systematic way to figure out all of the combinations of a number. So we moved on to talking about strategies and how to approach answering that question. And I was thrilled to find a new way to use and look at counting books...
We moved on to working independently and working with different numbers. We used mats and recording sheets. And as the kids were finished working with their decomposing mats they were off to make math choices of their own. And what I love about my class the very most this year is that they always, always see things in different ways. I walked over to listen to a group of kids using some beginning of the year counting mats. And I was happy to hear their discussion. Just like earlier in the year they were trying to extend the use of counting mats to include greater numbers, this time they were looking at counting mats to decompose numbers.
It did not take long for us to realize that we could actually use the counting boxes this way but we needed more counters! And considering that I have one million UNIFIX cubes it was easy to help them out with that. My kids have taught me a lot this year especially about looking at things in new ways and I have to say this new approach to using counting books and counting boxes that we all have is just about my favorite!
Just think of all the possibilities!

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