Posted in Math

Number Chart Routine…FRACTION STYLE!

Wow, isn’t it amazing how something that can start out as a small idea can explode into something much bigger than you ever anticipated.  That is how my Number Chart Routine has become for me.  I started small, modeling this routine in a few primary classes and coaching teachers on using this routine to build number sense with students.  Now, this has transitioned into my intermediate classrooms as a way to help students develop their decimal, and now fraction sense.

For those of you who are reading about my Number Chart routine for the first time, I would suggest that you go back and read my first post and watch a sample video of how the original routine works.

After modeling the whole number routines in various classrooms I felt like it was time to “take it up a notch” and use this routine to build fraction sense.  We know it is important to learn to count whole numbers before we compute with them.  Students who can count forward and back by numbers can more easily compute those numbers.  So…why don’t we do this with fractions.  We seem to just jump from representing fractions to adding and subtracting.  The Common Core emphasizes the use of the number line to help students bridge this gap.  With this thinking in mind I created the fractional Number Charts.  Each one counting up by fractional units.  Keep in mind that routine works the same way as the whole numbers.

So, Mr. Jeremy Wood, another one of my fabulous fifth grade teachers agreed to try the fraction routine out with his students.  Much to my delight his students did well with the routine and didn’t want him to stop (there’s a win!).  He felt like it really helped students see patterns and be able to count forward and back in fractional units.

After Mr. Wood tried out the first board we felt like it might be helpful to create boards the counted by fractions like 1/8, 2/8, 3/8, 4/8, 5/8, 6/8, 7/8, etc…  as well as a board with eighths but also equivalent forms of numbers.  For example this board has 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4, 7/8, etc… as shown below.


If you are interested in trying out the fraction boards they can be found here:  Fraction Number Chart Routines.  These would be great for classrooms from grades 3-5+.  I will continue to add more fraction variations as time allows and as my teachers request them (lol…things always get done faster when someone asks me to create them for a lesson they are doing).

If you would like links to all of my Number Chart Routines be sure to check them out on the Number Chart Routine Page.  Be sure to download the PowerPoint and click the present button so that the animations work on the third slide.  Note, the first 2 slides for just for teaching background and information.

Posted in Math

Upside Down and All Around: The Hundreds Chart 3.0

It seems that my first two posts on turning the hundreds charts (grid) upside down has generated a good bit of buzz.  I really appreciated all the feedback from teachers across the country and from the teachers in my own building (special thanks to Andrew Stadel and John SanGiovanni)!  What I thought was going to be a one shot blog post deal has taken on a life of its own.

The great part about being a lead teacher is being in a large elementary school (750 students) with lots of teachers who love to volunteer their classrooms up to me to model and try things out with their students.  So when I pitched this idea to my grade 1 team they were eager to have me try it out.  At that same meeting I came up with the idea of using Steve Wyborney’s digital hundreds chart version to make this into a math routine.  I was able to modify his original hundreds chart into several different upside down versions to use in my routine.

So, the very next day I went off, ipad and tripod in hand, to video myself on my first attempt to Spencer Taylor’s first grade classroom.  Spencer has a group of first graders who have many special needs (a quarter of them already have an IEP) as well as 1 or 2 students who are English Language Learners.   I knew that in our first grade classrooms had spent a good amount of instructional time with place value and using the hundreds chart early in the year.  From our planning the teachers decided to again revisit and expand on their instruction in place value to addition and subtraction in this upcoming marking period (we are really going to focus on those 1.NBT standards).  Spencer warned me that he wasn’t sure how they might respond but, undeterred I forged ahead!

I began by exposing only the 1 and the 100 on the board.  These are what I call the “anchor numbers”; numbers that help students make sense of the board and the arrangement without showing them the entire board.  Then I turned 9 other squares white.  With the students I first just had them simply NOTICE and WONDER about what they saw.  The students quickly able to see that these numbers were in a different place then they were used to but, as you will see in the video, they adapted quickly and were not phased by the change.  Next, for the routine we played a game of the class against me.  I told them that for every  number on the marked spaces, that they could identify correctly they would get a point and for every number that they incorrectly identified I would get the point.  Throughout the idea was that the student identifying the number had to explain to the class how they used their math thinking to determined the solution.

Side note….the video quality is not fabulous (sorry) as the lights had to be off to see the blue outline of the boxes on Steve’s chart.  

What I saw from these students during the short routine was a tremendous amount of thinking and reasoning!  I also saw how easily they could reason through the changes given their knowledge of numbers and patterns. This has spurred me on to think about creating lots of different number charts (with numbers in different locations) and building routines around them to build number sense through reasoning with patterns.

Side note…I would love to create a program where you could have a board with 100 or 120 spaces, fill the smallest number you want into one cell and the largest number into the last cell and then the board would automatically populate so you could use it like the board I modified from Steve or this Classworks board. If this is a skills you have contact me so we can make this happen!  In the meantime I’ll create some different boards on this page and start posting them for teachers.

Something else you might notice from the video is that you will see me try to redirect them to talk to their classmates instead of just me.  Students tend to just respond to the teacher but it is very important for them to communicate with each other instead of just the teacher.  This is something that could easily be built in this classroom through routines and activities.

Even after a successful routine with this group of first graders, I realized that this journey was taking on a life of its own.   First, I’m going to call change the routine name to Number Chart Routine.  My plan is that the boards will have many different configurations.  They may be right side up or upside down, sometimes they will end with 100 and sometimes they will go way beyond that into digits in the thousands or even start below 1 with decimals, fractions, negative number (yes even elementary students can understand that concept), etc…   For now, until I can figure out a way to automate the chart as I mentioned above, I will just begin by creating more variations on the board for teachers use and archiving them here on my blog (and on my school’s google page) for anyone to use and modify for FREE.

Here is the link to the folder that I’m going to continue to add versions of the Number Chart Routine.  I created 10 number charts to start with (5 regular and 5 upside down).  I will be adding more over the next few weeks.  Be sure to drop in again and make suggestions of other variations that you would like to see created!  This post will also be added to a new Math Resources page titled Number Chart Routine.

So…after all of this I hope you will dive in with me and try out this routine and share your experiences, thoughts, and feedback!