Here is an example of a guided math lesson that works on composing and decomposing numbers 11-19.
I’m also going to lay out the flow of what the entire lesson looks like when I am meeting with my kinders in “the teacher zone”… which is what I call where I meet with students as a center during guided math.
This is my general outline or “flow” that we follow at the teacher zone.
Despite the name, “the teacher zone” my kinders can always start without me.
If I am needed across the room, or am following up with assessing a student from the previous group, they simply get out a box of dry erase markers (in our group’s basket) and begin working on writing their numbers.
They are all working to see how far they can get writing 0-20 before I get there or am “ready.”
My highest group members each have a post-it in their groups’ box that holds the last highest number they wrote to. Their goal is to continue writing as high as they can, starting at their last recorded number and then record their new number when time is up.
Sometimes just having one minute to review my lesson plan again and switching mental gears is just what I need.
We start out with a whole group warm-up. Normally this is counting, and each group has their own goals.
I love having these free counting mats. I ran some double-sided (one side counting to 100 and the reverse side counting down from 100) laminated and bound them to make a booklet along with other resources I use often during guided math.
There are seven math mat booklets – one for each student and then one for me to model.
I print each math mat page on a different color to make finding correct pages quickly an easier thing to do.
Some groups we count to 70 or 100 by ones, one group is learning to count backwards from 100. Students first try to count on their own (to the target number) while touching each number as they quietly count, then we do it all together.
Then we practice using the hundreds chart for another skill like:
- counting by tens
- counting by tens starting at 6 (or 8 or 2)
- finding a number on the chart
- start counting at a number other than 1
The skill chosen depends upon the group. But those are generally things that don’t take very long to do and get our minds focused on numbers.
After the warm-up we launch into the main math activity.
I plan about 15-20 mins worth of an activity and always tie it to a math strategy or two.
When introducing, I begin by sharing what strategies we are going to try or by having a student explain what the strategy means (if we’ve already tried the activity before).
This quarter we are focusing on composing and decomposing numbers 11-19 using a group of ten and ones. It allows us to also practice more standards like identifying numbers 11-19 and writing numbers 11-19.
For example, we are using the strategy, “See the pattern or connection.”
And I sing (to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell):
We are also using tools to “show my thinking” when we are used to using pictures and numbers to show our thinking.
So I introduce the materials needed to show our thinking about teen numbers.
The first time we did the activity, we modeled writing a “teen” in the tens place and talked about the connection between all the teen numbers.
We used number cards and foam groups of ten and ones to make 11-19.
Our first time we probably made only 3-4 numbers during our group time.
With my lowest group, we only focused on the 11-15 range and I had the materials in front of me as they helped make the numbers whole group.
Differentiate based on skills: Higher-level students
The second time we did this activity, my highest group started out with teens and moved right into making numbers 11-99. They pulled higher number cards and worked with a partner.
Partner work in small groups is so powerful. They are great at working together, checking each other’s work, and staying on task.
Scaffold the work
For my other groups, the second time we did this activity, we worked our way into partner work and then independent practice.
This scaffolded learning this skill from doing it with the teacher, to with a partner, to doing it independently.
To make it “feel” like a game, a partner would pull a number card (so I had one set of cards for each partnership) the other person would make the number with foam ten frames and ones. The first person would check the making and write the number.
I think we did this as our main activity for three different lessons before everyone had a great grasp of it! It was time well spent.
Use strategies and questions
While students are working, I am always referring to the strategy that I laid out on the table before we began.
I am asking questions like:
- how did you figure that out?
- what do you notice about ______?
Their favorite thing is when they catch themselves making a mistake and get praised for “checking their work.” (Which is another math strategy we practice)
When we go to transition out, I refer back to what strategy we practiced and how it applied. For this lesson, I’d review the song (about why teens have a one) as they are cleaning up their materials.
We wrap-up our time together by focusing on a different standard that can be practiced in bite-size chunks.
Currently, we are getting lots of practice making our teen numbers using playdough in the last five minutes before its time to switch groups.
My lowest group is working on just identifying those teen numbers and recalling their form.
My second highest group is exploring what new number is made when I ask them to switch numbers in the tens and ones place, and ask, “What is 7’s ten name?” They have fun taking 17 making it into 71 and then back again. This exploration is keeping them on their toes.
My highest group has made teens and twenties and are now moving into thirties. They also enjoy changing the numbers in the tens and ones place to see what new numbers are made.
That’s where we’ve been spending some time over the first 3-4 weeks of our second quarter.
For now, this format and flow works for us. I’ve made lots of tweaks so far this year and am growing in the way that I use our guided math groups. I’m genuinely thankful that I am stretching myself as a teacher in new ways that meet my kinders’ needs.
I love being able to share my ideas, thoughts and more here as I continue in the process.
A note on composing and decomposing numbers
This skill ends up being huge in mastering numbers to 100 and beyond.
If you want to brush up on this specific standard, be sure to check out a three-part series that dives into everything you could want to know about decomposing and composing numbers in kindergarten.
Take my best-selling item on composing and decomposing numbers to help your kinders master this skill.
What tips do you have for creating a lesson flow that works for you?
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