Sunday, December 13, 2015

Teen Numbers part 2

Our week of teen number stations went well. Students were able to practice and talk about teen numbers in all 4 stations. About half are still struggling with writing teen numbers correctly, but they can all read and recognize teen numbers with accuracy. We will have an assessment next week to check in on their overall understanding of teen numbers.

I used 4 different stations. Three involved partner work, one was individual.

This is the rekenrek station. If you are not familiar with rekenreks, it is worth it to do some googling. They are cool tools. I have a set I made out of foam board, pipe cleaners, pony beads, and masking tape. Students drew a teen number card and used a rekenrek to show the number. They compared their board with their partner's board, then verbally decomposed the number into tens and ones. Some pairs were very independent with this, some needed more support. But they loved using the rekenrek. It's not a tool we've used often, so the novelty was engaging to students.

This is the missing numbers station, the only individual station in the rotation. These twenty frames were downloaded from, one of my favorite sites. I also made one answer key that I placed on the table for all students at the station to share. This increased students' independence at this station. Even so, this was the most difficult station for students.

This picture shows the Build It station. Students are very familiar with this activity, we have done several different versions this year to practice different math skills. In this version, students draw a teen number card and then build that number on the ten frames using manipulatives. Students love any chance to get the counting bears out. I say bears, but I have dinosaurs, hippos, and aliens too. Students feel like they get to play with toys when they pull these out, even though I've tricked them into practicing math skills! After they built the number on the ten frames, they verbally decomposed the number into tens and ones.

The final station is another that I downloaded from I copied these teen number puzzles onto different colors of construction paper. The colors are for a pure management purpose. Cards and pieces get lost on the floor ALL THE TIME! If each set is a different color, when I find one of those lost pieces, I know exactly which set it belongs to and can return it easily. Without the color coding, I have to search and check each set to figure out which one is missing a piece. Who has time for that? But as you can tell from the picture, pieces still get lost!
These puzzles have three parts: the number, the number decomposed into tens and ones, and the number on ten frames. I really like the redundancy of this practice.And don't worry, the decomposed number still shows the numerals, so students who do not have the reading skills to read the number words can still figure it out.

My team and I designed a short formative assessment we will use next week to assess student progress on K.NBT.1. The mandatory district assessment for the first half of the year will be administered in January. I hope these practice activities help students understand this concept and prepare for these assessments.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Teen Numbers part 1

One of the most challenging standards in the Common Core Math Standards for Kindergarten is K.NBT.1

"Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some further ones, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each composition or decomposition by a drawing or equation (such as 18 = 10 + 8); understand that these numbers are composed of ten ones and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine ones." (

For 5 year olds who began the year without knowing how to count to 10, mastering this standard less than 9 months later is a challenge to say the least. And my district has chosen to put it in the second grading period, meaning my students are expected to master this skill less then 5 months after they walk in the school doors for the first time.

That's a tall order.

I'm not going to debate here on whether or not that's a good idea or developmentally appropriate. I have lots of opinions on the topic, but I am choosing not to share them here.

What I do want to share are the ways I teach this standard so that my students have the best chance of developing a clear understanding of this concept when they are developmentally ready. Last week was our introduction to this topic. We worked as a whole group to break down each number from 10 to 20 using ten frames. We verbally discussed how each number looked on the ten frame, touching them physically at every opportunity. We also practiced with fingers, showing ten and ___ more so that students could physically act it out with a partner. I believe it is hugely important for young students to interact with concepts in as many concrete ways as possible.

It took us 4 days to get through all of the numbers. If that sounds like a long time, you know how intense our work was.

The plan this next week is to use a variety of math stations to practice these skills. It also gives me a great opportunity to assess where each student is individually and provide quick practice and feedback as necessary. I'll let you know how it went next week (with lots of pictures!).