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Monday, March 21, 2016

Jelly Bean Math

The countdown to Easter (and the spring testing season) has begun!  Today, I planned a quick little project with a group of 10 second graders that was super engaging and a great way to practice estimating, counting, comparing numbers and early division concepts.
It all started with little Dixie Cups of jelly beans (I used these ones).  I put the kids in 3 groups.  I gave each group a little cup of jelly beans and posted these directions on the SMART board.

Want to try this with your students? Grab these directions from Google Drive.

Two of my groups had 3 kids in them and one group had 4 kids.  I gave the groups with 3 kids 45 jelly beans and the group with 4 kids 60 jelly beans.  

I have really been working on independence with these kids and tried my best to step back and observe and not take over!  

I saw so many things that made my math heart happy!

Kids organizing and recording estimates
One group organized all their beans by color and then decided it would be much more efficient to put them in groups of 10.  The other groups went for groups of 10 from the get go. 
When each group had figured out how much they had, it was quite easy for them to figure out how much they were off by.  These kids are so flexible and fluent with double digit subtraction

Dividing the jelly beans equally between each group member was fun to watch.  Each group started by giving everyone 10.  Two of the groups were convinced that there would be a leftover bean that would have to be cut up.  The rationale was that because 15 is odd, there will be a leftover.  They were surprised to find that there was none left!  The main strategy for sharing out the beans was to give each person 10 and then share them out 1 by 1 until they were gone.

This part took a total of 14 minutes (including a few minutes of eating the beans!)

Then I pulled the group together and had each group share out how many beans their group got and how many each person ended up with.  There was some outcry over one group getting 60, but it provoked an interesting discussion about how each kid ended up with 15.

I then presented them with this problem."There are 10 second graders in this room and I gave you each 15 jelly beans.  How many jelly beans did I give out?"  I gave kids a minute to think at the circle then sent them off to grab a white board and show me what they knew.  I chose this problem because last winter when I was reading Children's Mathematics I became very intentional about making sure kids have the chance to solve Base 10 Story Problems.  Since 10 kids were in this group, I thought it would be interesting to see who used base 10 knowledge to solve this problem.  I gave out 10 groups of 15 but some kids used the idea of that being the same as 15 groups of 10.  
This student used base 10 knowledge to solve the problem (and the distributive property!)
Another student who used base 10 knowledge
This student added 45+45+60.  They used the number of jelly beans each group had.

Total time for this was 25 minutes.  We had a lot of fun, the kids got some good practice and I got to learn some new things about what strategies my students have.  How are you working on estimating and counting in your classroom?  Want to try this out?  Grab the directions from Google Drive

1 comment:

  1. I like how this blog discusses the importance of not teaching students the standard algorithm right away when learning different operations. This is important because it will help students understand place value much better if they are not taught the standard algorithm. I think this is apparent when students that I have worked with are able to solve problems more quickly in their heads than I can. One reason that teaching the standard algorithms is not helpful for students is that they think about the numbers in the problem without realizing their place value. For instance, in the problem 54+ 25, I would think of it as adding 4 plus 5 to get 9 and then 5 plus 2 to get 7 for an answer of 79. However, when students are using strategies they see 50 plus 20 because they understand the place value. One teaching strategy that should be used daily in a math classroom to help students learn new strategies and help build a positive classroom community is to use number talks. During number talks, the teacher writes a problem on the board, and the students solve the problem in their heads. The students show that they have an answer by putting their hands on their chests. The teacher will call on a student to share their answer and then see if anyone else got a different answer. Often if a student has a wrong answer, they will quickly realize that they did the problem wrong, and it will be empowering to the student to correct their mistake. Then students will share how they solved the problem until no one used any different strategies. This is helpful for students because they are all learning new ways to solve problems. All students need to have more than one way to solve problems because not all problems will work as well with all strategies. It is important for teachers to remember that students are not wrong if they solve a problem differently than you taught the problem or differently than you would solve the problem.
    I also enjoy how this blog discussed how we believe that the ability to do math in innate. This is an important barrier for teachers to tear down because students need to know that everyone is able to do math. It is also important that teachers use praise that supports growth mindsets and not fixed mindsets. Jo Boaler, a professor from Stanford, has done a lot of research on growth and fixed mindsets. She believes that teachers need to praise students for their effort instead of saying that they are smart when they get a problem correct. She believes that teachers need to send the message to students that everyone can do it. She also says that mistakes make our brains grow. How wonderful would it be for teachers to say to students that their brains are growing when they make a mistake instead of getting frustrated that the student did not get the problem correct? Jo Boaler also points out that we must get passed the stereotype that boys are better at math because it leads to missed opportunities for girls in math.
    The fraction math lesson was also really helpful for students because the students were not taught the standard algorithm. They also got to experience fractions in an engaging and hands-on way which is fun for the students. The teacher would easily be able to pre-assess what students knew before starting a fraction unit with these stations. This activity also helped students overcome some of the common misconceptions with fractions such as, that fractions with a bigger denominator are bigger. The students also noticed that the fractions changed sizes when the whole changed which is a big concept for students to learn when using fractions.