Monday, December 7, 2015

Crazy Counting Sets, Groups and Arrays

The CCSS through around the terms "group" with "set" and "array," and I noticed that I did not frequently use those terms in instruction, and consequently neither did my students. A work around for these terms, as well as the skills that come with counting a set or array of objects is summarized in a little game our class is calling Crazy Count.

First, this game is modeled by the teacher during a math talk. Next it becomes a small group center at the SMARTboard and finally can become independent practice using SMART Notebook software on our student's iPads. It is also really useful for students to play in a partner setting to compare different routes or paths of counting the objects which all arrive at the same total.

The directions are simple. Students count each object by writing a numeral inside of it. To differentiate for students who struggle with numerals, have them write a dot or an X to show it was counted. Count all objects and write the total. Partner 2 comes up and counts the same set in a different way. Circle the total that Partner 1 wrote if you agree with that number. Or, since good counters always go back and count again, recount the set and find a total you both agree on.

Here is what the game looks like, using images from SMART Technologies. 

After establishing rules about taking turns and using the SMARTboard appropriately, students are really motivated to get up and play.

Here is an example of student work. The objective is arriving at the same total through different paths, boosting flexibility in my student's thinking before we tackle our addition unit next month.

There are numbers in each object and students are using the word "total" with one another while working through these sets. All in all, a great day in math for us!

Have you noticed how some students can be rigid in their counting skills? What activities do you do to boost flexibility in their mathematical thinking?