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Monday, August 31, 2009

Number (non)Sense

I am rapidly coming to the realization that my kids are low this year. VERY low. Sure, I'm not talking about the entire group, but more than a lot of them.

My second group especially seem to have no number sense. Things that they should have learned in first grade are not being done in class. Today, over 3/4 of the class was writing things like 10-12=2, 10+12=2, 21+5=6, 14-18=4, etc. They were writing these equations vertically, but those were the answers they were writing.

I know that every year regrouping, especially in regards to subtraction, is a major point of emphasis that we always have to retrain them on and practice, practice, practice. But 10+12=2?? I'm pretty sure that in this case, the child already knew what they wanted (we were finding "rules" for a number pattern), and when they got 22 instead of 2, they just erased the first 2, leaving the completely inaccurate number sentence.

Another thing that has me pulling my hair out already...

Because my class is so low this year, I know that I cannot be successful with them unless I am able to work with them in small groups.

I also know that I cannot work in small groups unless the rest of the kids are working on task on something else.

However, I have not been able to come up with a good way to get those other kids (and I have a lot of playing kids and talking kids) on task! I would LOVE to hear suggestions from you master teachers out there on how you get your kids to do what they are supposed to do!


Columbia Lily said...

hmmmm.....large ferocious dogs would probably do the trick. =)

what about some kind of reward system where kids can earn (or lose!) points (or money?) for doing what they are supposed to (or not supposed to) and then on Fridays a little "shopping" for cheap stuff from the dollar store or Target? It would take some training though. And it might be something you could use to practice basic addition or subtraction skills.

By the way, on a completely unrelated note, I have a student named Saytun in my class this not kidding.

Mister Teacher said...

Saytun??? What are these parents thinking!! Somebody told me today that one time long ago, they had a child named "Monique." Of course assuming that this was a girl, the teacher was very surprised with a boy stood up and said, "It's pronounced Monny-Q."

I do something similar to what you are talking about with blue tickets and rewards. That just doesn't seem to have made too much of an impact so far...

loonyhiker said...

I would put them in small groups and if possible have one student who is understands the concept. Have the group work on the problems together to come up with the answer. Then you can move around to the groups and help them. Have them choose one person in their group to work out a problem in front of the whole class. As you do another problem, it has to be a different person in the group show the class. This way they can learn to help each other.

Mister Teacher said...

Hiker, thank you for weighing in. I have the kids in groups. They have a partner, and then there are 2 partner groups at each "table." The problem is that when I go around to the groups to help them, a lot of the other kids stop working and start playing or talking. The small group idea is great, I'm just having great difficulty keeping the other kids on task when I am not directly beside them.

Simply Sublime said...

Ugh! I am having the SAME problem! Unless I am constantly "monitoring" the whole group, I'm unable to work with a small group.

I'll keep checking back for more great ideas that I too can use.

Laurie said...

I was a classroom teacher for 15 years and now work for DreamBoxLearning. I don't want to sound like a commercial but if you have access to computers in your classroom it just might help solve your problem. DreamBox is a supplemental on-line math program. Right now it is for k-2 but there are a lot of teachers using it with older students who are struggling with math. It really does individualize to each child. If you have some computers you could have at least one small group working on DreamBox. They would be on-task and learning math! You can check it out at and click on the Teachers link for a 30 day FREE trial.

I'd love to hear what you think!

Ed U. Cater said...

I have the same kind of kids that you and Simply Sublime are describing. I'm sensing a pattern here.

I, too, am having more difficulty then I've ever had before.

The only thing I can think of is... well, did you ever see the movie, "A Clockwork Orange"?