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Finding the START line to get to the FINISH line.

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

Y’all I was talking to a student today that I worked with at the beginning of the year. She told me-I need help! I need you to come back to my class! I told her that I would be happy to get back in there but her teacher told me that she has grown so much and is doing so much better! I asked her what she would like to work on.

She told me she wanted to work on her facts. She said she can only understand it if she draws the groups and then counts them all and she said her class was working on doubling but she couldn’t figure out how to do it without drawing everything out.

So I told her the trick is to think of numbers in easy chunks so that you can put them together without having to count…just by using relationships you know. So we started practicing in my office.

I asked her how she would put two sixes together. She said she would count on. I told her to hold up 6 fingers. When she did she held up 5 and 1. I said-look at your hands. Those are chunks of 6. What chunks do you see? She saw the 5 and 1. Then I held up my six. I said…5 and 1 is the same as 6, yes? She shook her head yes. And so I said well do you know what 5 and 5 is? She said 10. 1 and 1? 2. 10 and 2? Twelve. All of these answers were automatic with no counting. So she understood unitizing with teen numbers. 😉

I told her-you are decomposing numbers and using mathematical properties and your knowledge of place value to put numbers together in easier ways in your brain! Now let’s see if we can try that again…let’s think about 2 sevens! She was able to pretty easily think two fives makes ten and two twos makes 4, then 10 and 4 is 14, without having to count.

I showed her how she could represent this thinking using number bonds rather than drawing out groups of 7. Then I showed her how she could use what she knew about 2 sevens to get four sevens and eight sevens through doubling. She got it very quickly! We did 2 sixes, 4 sixes, and 8 sixes the same way. She was GETTING IT QUICK and she was beaming. This is the face I live for!

I told her-you feel like you are far off but you really are not. You just need to practice those x2 facts making that ten and then you will have your x2, x4, and x8 facts. You are legit so close! I ripped the page out of my notebook I was modeling in and gave it to her. I saw her walking down the hallway this afternoon at dismissal and I said-hold up! What’s 2 sevens? She said 14 super quick and gasped! She was shocked she did it so quick! I told her I’ll check with her in the morning about 2 eights and 2 nines.

She will probably have it by tomorrow. But the whole point of this is she has been struggling ALL YEAR, because she needed to spend some time going back to where the problem started. It took 5 minutes of my time to close this gap. This 5 minutes will allow her to master so much more math!

I know we are always feeling short on time…but I can not say this enough…don’t be afraid to back up and see where that problem is starting. Where are you racing to? You will never finish a race if you can’t find START! Finding that start is super important!

Once you find where that problem STARTS, and you fill that gap, students can master years of material pretty quickly! And of course, if you need support identifying where the problem starts, we are here to help!

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