This Blog came by email

To: Ann Baker [email protected]

Subject: For your blog (if you want)

Hi Ann!

A recount of my lesson in R/1. We did this all in a circle so kids could easily see what others were doing. Do whatever you want with it! I named them A, B, C and D but on reading it again it sounds like grades… and not that far off the truth from what I can tell! It was a total accident.

I asked the kids to take 10 counters and watched what they did. One Year 1, let’s call him A, arranged his in a perfect 10‐frame. A reception took a whole lot, arranged them all face up and said it was 10. I asked how he knew and he vaguely motioned to the counters. Some children showed me it was 10 by lining up and moving the counters as they counted. Some just counted them wherever they were and lost track of the count.

Then I said we’d have a competition to see who could build the tallest tower. Below is B, a Year 1. She built her tower with approximately equal purple and yellow counters. I asked her how she could check if they were equal. She compared it to her hand but didn’t think of counting. Later she added a third tier of purple, again the same height. Other children started to experiment with equal parts. “A” started moving to other kids’ towers and trying to measure them in relation to his head height (while crouched). His tower was tall quickly and fell first, but he displayed remarkable resilience and just looked at me and grinned, and started again. It set the tone for the lesson, and only one child spat the dummy when his fell. He eventually restarted without prompting.

Below is C. She built her tower in an AB pattern. We discussed this and other children started experimenting. I encouraged them to put the counters out horizontally, then see if some could build an AABB or an AAB pattern. I started a pattern for some and encouraged them to continue it. Then I asked what other kinds of patterns they could make.

Below is B again. Her tower has long since fallen and she is now investigating patterns. I asked her to describe the pattern, and she used counting this time (unprompted). Her pattern reasoning doesn’t make sense, but she’s well on the way to developing strategies to check and fix up.

And finally here is A. The most resilient child I’ve met so far when it comes to a competition; he just kept going in different ways. He was continuously thinking mathematically. He decided to build several small towers instead, and then stacked them at the last minute. He did this in a number of ways but ended up with a pattern. He was able to tell me it was a pattern with 7 yellow, 7 purple, 7 yellow etc.

Images from a tower-building competition

I got them to draw some patterns. D came back again and again with what looked like scribble and ended up being able to draw 4 circles in an AB pattern.

At the end of the lesson we did some clapping patterns. Slapping the knees was purple and clapping was yellow. I started the patterns and the kids continued, but then the kids started suggesting some patterns.

A really simple, really fun and very informative activity! Photos are attached in a zip in case you can’t get them from the email.

Big thanks to Caroline for this engaging recount. It is always great to hear from the classroom; might it be you next time?