Supporting All Learners (Part 2): Grade 1 Mathematicians Explore Subtraction

By Jacki Brick posted 05-04-2018 03:16


A refresher from my last post:  I am a Learning Support teacher in G1, and along with the G1 teaching team, I look for opportunities to use and elicit evidence of student thinking to in order to design small group lessons, and adjust my instruction based on their thinking. My current small group continued the Basic Facts & Place Value unit. Following the lessons from Days 1-4 (see NCTM Blog Post), I met with one of our instructional coaches to talk through planning my next instructional steps. We looked at the following areas:

  • Teaching Focus: What math teaching & learning questions do you have about the first few lessons - what are the things you’re still thinking about, wondering about? Previous lessons & reflection with a focus on two Math Teaching Practices, my goal is to see whether or not they model and transfer Monday’s lesson (Finding numbers on 100 Chart) to today’s lesson (Word problem with sets of 10s). I wonder if my students were going to automatically make groups of 10 when they are presented with a two-digit number.
  • Lesson Structure (Focus): What will the math learning look like in your small group today? I want students to use manipulatives instead of pencils / pens first. I envision that Ss will explore first, before I tell them / lead them further. I will use the Cupcakes problem - one that makes using groups of 10 a more efficient way to solve it.
  • Evidence: How will you know you are successful? What evidence will you collect?
    The Small Group will be five of our G1 Students (C, Ca, R, J, and M). I will look for evidence of their thinking as they revisit their previous learning (Review), and as they work through the Cupcake task. I am wondering if they will bundle groups of tens or not.
  • Coaching Notes: How would you like our time to look together?
    Leaning in, sharing & thinking, “live” coaching, partner in thinking.

From our partnership conversation, I began Day 5 small group work with five students. The script below highlights what students were doing (first initials only or generic “S” for student response) and what I was doing (T). I continued my focus on the following Mathematics Teaching Practice: Elicit and use evidence of student thinking. Effective teaching of mathematics uses evidence of student thinking to assess progress toward mathematical understanding and to adjust instruction continually in ways that support and extend learning
Script 3Script

I strive to provide my students with opportunities to represent their work with models that make sense to them, make connections between multiple representations, and to understand when a representation either does not make sense or is not efficient and effective. SInce these five students need scaffolded instruction, I have purposefully emphasized the use of building concrete models before drawing a more concrete representation, as these students’ still need to build conceptual understanding.  Having another set of eyes and ears in the classroom allows me to better plan my instruction. Working with a thinking partner helped me to plan each part of my lesson purposefully, helped me to pare down what I was looking for in my students’ work, and it certainly helped me think about a sequence of lessons to meet my students’ needs.  

Let’s Talk → I’m thinking about my next steps, and I’m interested in feedback from all of you. I am planning to give these students number sentences without context. I am hoping that they will be able to write context to match the number sentences and to make sense of what the problem is modeling. Do they really understand that a number sentence (symbolic) is connected to context that can be modeled?

Jacki Brick is a Learning Support teacher for Grade 1 at the American School of Madrid.  Throughout her 30 year career, Jacki has supported students at a variety of grade levels, from first through sixth grades. The first 5 years of her career were spent in Atlanta, Georgia, while the following 25 have been with the American School of Madrid.