Comparing Numbers with GO Math | Grade 2 Hullabaloo: Comparing Numbers with GO Math

Monday, September 21, 2015

Comparing Numbers with GO Math


I love teaching math. Love it! I think it's because I enjoy helping children pull apart problems and think through solving them. That's what I had to do as a math student in high school and college. I had to know the why's and how's of solving a problem. 

So, when my district adopted GO Math!, I thought my days of teaching creatively were over. You see, our district leader loves fidelity. Fidelity is great in relationships. I might have a little bit of a problem with fidelity in following a prescribed set of lessons. Shhh... 

Mind you, I am a rule follower. Aren't most of us in the teaching profession? We're rule followers, pleasers, and nurturers. However, there comes a time when we (teachers) have to gently push back with respectful questions about policies in relation to what is best for our students. After all, who knows the students best? Yes! We do. Have I pushed back? No way! I want to keep my job. 

However, what I have learned is to work around certain prescribed lesson outlines to find a happier medium between faithfulness to a textbook, and commitment to my students to give them what they need. Today's lesson was so much fun! I didn't feel tethered to a book that sets out a 'do together' activity, some guided practice, and then independent work. Pages, pages, pages. I am not a pages kind of teacher.

Before I describe our fun activity, I need to give a shout-out to the GO Math! series. It is really well done. There are more resources than a teacher could ever use! There is a website with many tools and gadgety things. It is rigorous (another of our district leader's favorite words)! The GO Math! website takes a while to learn where everything is, but I'm getting there. One of the things I do like are the short videos called Math on the Spot. There are two kooky puppets that interact with humans to demonstrate how to solve problems. The kids really like these! And, they're quite good. 

So, back to the lesson... 

It was on comparing three-digit numbers. I began with a review of place values from ones to hundreds. We pulled out the base ten blocks and built numbers. Then, I introduced a little gadget called a comparison strip (a TA in the room suggest this name, since I really didn't have a name for it). I modeled how to use it, and the kiddos were off to work in groups of three or four. I gave them one three-digit number, and they used our base ten block grab bags to pull out a handful of blocks and build a number to compare to the one I gave them. I overheard one TA say, "These things are great!" They are great! Check out the pictures. 

What is this wonderful, engaging tool, you ask? It's a laminated section of sentence strip. There are two black pieces that are also laminated. Brads hold the black pieces in place, so that they can pivot to make the <, >, or = symbols. The children use dry erase markers to record the numbers on them. 

Who knew that they would be such a hit with this year's group. I made them last year, but my students weren't all that excited about them. This year, they're the cat's pajamas!

I cannot take credit for this terrific idea. I searched Pinterest and found this link to Mrs. T's First Grade Class blog. Hers look a little different from mine, but it's the same principle. I don't know if she originated it, but I'm giving her credit. 

You might be wondering if I went back to the GO Math! lesson. I did! Once the children had several opportunities to compare different three-digit numbers, we went back to the book to do just the two pages that were good for formative assessment. I'm sure you won't be surprised to know that the children did an excellent job on the written work after having lots of opportunities to compare with base ten blocks!

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