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November 13, 2014

Number Walks Lead to Number Talks

By Kriscia Cabral
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    I’ve been working with a group of students in my class on finding an understanding of numbers. After a few whole class discussions on the subject, I came to realize a few things about my math class. Every student in my class is aware of numbers. They see and interact with numbers every day, but without really comprehending the different ways numbers affect us such as statistics, charts, or probability. So, I set aside a day for number exploration.

     

    Introduction Day

    I started with Math Curse by Jon Scieszka. This is a story about a boy who hears from his teacher that " . . . almost everything in life can be considered a math problem.” The next thing he knows, the boy can find himself thinking of nothing but math. Everything he sees and imagines in his mind is a math problem. He gets twisted and twirled through every form of math (algebra, statistics, charts, money, etc.). He dreams about math equations and counting while trapped in a room filled with a chalkboard covered in math problems. The young boy escapes the problems by using fractions to make a whole, which turns out to be the “hole” through which he escapes. He wakes up the next morning ready to face the world of math, only to hear his science teacher mention that everything in life can be viewed as a science experiment (which then leads to another book, Science Verse).

    The book is a great introduction to the idea that numbers and math are all around us. Have we ever stopped to notice it? After reading Math Curse, I asked my students to think just about numbers in math. I asked the following questions to spark the conversation:

    • Do all numbers in math stand for the same thing?

    • How do we know?

    • Are there different types of numbers?

    • How do we know when the value of a number has changed?

     

    Explain the Number Walk

    After we discussed the questions above, many of them remained unanswered because students could not figure out the answers without looking at actual numbers. I told the class I had a project to help answer our questions. We were also trying to create an explanation for the essential question for our lesson: “What ways might numbers be represented?"  To answer the question, we would go on a "Number Walk."

    I explained the Number Walk project as follows: We are going to take our devices, or notebook paper and pencil with us as we walk around our campus. Your job is to look for numbers and take a picture of what you see. When we return to our classroom, you need to be ready to share about the numbers that you saw, where the numbers were located, and what the number was telling you.

     

    The Number Walk

    I took students on a tour around our campus and helped them to explore the numbers that they saw. As they captured the numbers (either with a camera from a device, or writing down on paper), I asked questions to guide student learning: 

    • What is the number telling you?

    • Is it identifying something?

    • Is it counting something?

    • Is there a pattern within the numbers?

     

    Return and Share

    After my students returned to the classroom I had them partner up to talk about their discoveries. I asked partners to take turns sharing the different numbers they captured. The person sharing was instructed to tell:

    • What the number is

    • Where they found the number

    • The significance of the number

     

    After both partners shared, I asked that they compare and contrast their numbers to see if they found any that were similar to one another. They were to work with their partners and try to identify three types of numbers:

    1. Numbers that count something (Cardinal)

    2. Numbers that order something, for example first, second, third . . . twenty-fifth). (Ordinal)

    3. Numbers used to identify or name things (Nominal)

     

    I first shared the categories using the “Numbers that…” statement and underneath I added the academic vocabulary term for the word. I asked pairs to come together in groups of four to five, and continue their discussions about which category of numbers that they found, as well as sharing the pictures of the numbers they took. Above is the template that students used to show their understanding of different uses of numbers.

    At the end of our time together, we had a class discussion about what types of numbers we saw the most.

    As an extension to our learning, I challenged students to find more numbers in their everyday world. They were invited to either take pictures of the numbers or bring from home magazines, newspapers, or any other visual forms that had numbers to explore.

    We then took their clippings or digital pictures and created a personal bulletin board.

    Students found Math Curse to be true. Math is all around us. Reading this book and taking one piece of it to explore with students was a great start. It was just enough to grab their attention and get their wheels rolling on their own discovery and learning adventure.

    Have you used this book in your class? What kinds of learning experiences did you create with it? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

     

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

     

    Sign up to receive historical letters from a Pilgrim girl and a Wampanoag boy by email.

    I’ve been working with a group of students in my class on finding an understanding of numbers. After a few whole class discussions on the subject, I came to realize a few things about my math class. Every student in my class is aware of numbers. They see and interact with numbers every day, but without really comprehending the different ways numbers affect us such as statistics, charts, or probability. So, I set aside a day for number exploration.

     

    Introduction Day

    I started with Math Curse by Jon Scieszka. This is a story about a boy who hears from his teacher that " . . . almost everything in life can be considered a math problem.” The next thing he knows, the boy can find himself thinking of nothing but math. Everything he sees and imagines in his mind is a math problem. He gets twisted and twirled through every form of math (algebra, statistics, charts, money, etc.). He dreams about math equations and counting while trapped in a room filled with a chalkboard covered in math problems. The young boy escapes the problems by using fractions to make a whole, which turns out to be the “hole” through which he escapes. He wakes up the next morning ready to face the world of math, only to hear his science teacher mention that everything in life can be viewed as a science experiment (which then leads to another book, Science Verse).

    The book is a great introduction to the idea that numbers and math are all around us. Have we ever stopped to notice it? After reading Math Curse, I asked my students to think just about numbers in math. I asked the following questions to spark the conversation:

    • Do all numbers in math stand for the same thing?

    • How do we know?

    • Are there different types of numbers?

    • How do we know when the value of a number has changed?

     

    Explain the Number Walk

    After we discussed the questions above, many of them remained unanswered because students could not figure out the answers without looking at actual numbers. I told the class I had a project to help answer our questions. We were also trying to create an explanation for the essential question for our lesson: “What ways might numbers be represented?"  To answer the question, we would go on a "Number Walk."

    I explained the Number Walk project as follows: We are going to take our devices, or notebook paper and pencil with us as we walk around our campus. Your job is to look for numbers and take a picture of what you see. When we return to our classroom, you need to be ready to share about the numbers that you saw, where the numbers were located, and what the number was telling you.

     

    The Number Walk

    I took students on a tour around our campus and helped them to explore the numbers that they saw. As they captured the numbers (either with a camera from a device, or writing down on paper), I asked questions to guide student learning: 

    • What is the number telling you?

    • Is it identifying something?

    • Is it counting something?

    • Is there a pattern within the numbers?

     

    Return and Share

    After my students returned to the classroom I had them partner up to talk about their discoveries. I asked partners to take turns sharing the different numbers they captured. The person sharing was instructed to tell:

    • What the number is

    • Where they found the number

    • The significance of the number

     

    After both partners shared, I asked that they compare and contrast their numbers to see if they found any that were similar to one another. They were to work with their partners and try to identify three types of numbers:

    1. Numbers that count something (Cardinal)

    2. Numbers that order something, for example first, second, third . . . twenty-fifth). (Ordinal)

    3. Numbers used to identify or name things (Nominal)

     

    I first shared the categories using the “Numbers that…” statement and underneath I added the academic vocabulary term for the word. I asked pairs to come together in groups of four to five, and continue their discussions about which category of numbers that they found, as well as sharing the pictures of the numbers they took. Above is the template that students used to show their understanding of different uses of numbers.

    At the end of our time together, we had a class discussion about what types of numbers we saw the most.

    As an extension to our learning, I challenged students to find more numbers in their everyday world. They were invited to either take pictures of the numbers or bring from home magazines, newspapers, or any other visual forms that had numbers to explore.

    We then took their clippings or digital pictures and created a personal bulletin board.

    Students found Math Curse to be true. Math is all around us. Reading this book and taking one piece of it to explore with students was a great start. It was just enough to grab their attention and get their wheels rolling on their own discovery and learning adventure.

    Have you used this book in your class? What kinds of learning experiences did you create with it? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

     

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

     

    Sign up to receive historical letters from a Pilgrim girl and a Wampanoag boy by email.

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