Killip is a Universal Free Lunch school, which means that virtually 98% of kids get their lunch free in the cafeteria every day. We have a fruit & vegetable bar that frequently features apples.
On a day when the kiddos have the option to choose their apple—red or green—I take a picture of one of the fruit and vegetable bars. This will be projected when we begin our math after lunch.
The kiddos walk in from lunch and see the picture of their apples projected on “the big screen.”
“Hey friends!” I say, “You will color in the color of the apple that you chose for your lunch tray today! If you picked a red apple, color the apple picture…”
“Red!” students finish for me.
“If you chose a green apple for your lunch…”
“Color in green!” students finish.
“Can you use both red and green on one apple?” I ask to clarify.
“No!” students say, emphatically.
There are names on the apple papers so that we can keep track of whose colored paper apple is whose. (It’s not a voting activity—we’re simply keeping track of what we chose for lunch so we can use that information to compare numbers for math.
“We’re going to be counting and comparing numbers—figuring out which number is bigger,” I explain, “But let’s pretend it’s our job to tell the cafeteria how many apples to order for lunch next week. We have to use our information to help decide what to order next week. Is this important stuff?” I ask.
“Oh, yes!” students confirm.
I read a book about apples while groups of students color their apple from lunch either red or green. This keeps the students occupied while 6 kids at a time are documenting their lunch selections. I planned to use our test carrels, but the students do a fantastic job keeping each other honest about their apple colors.
After all of our work groups have been called to color apples, I ask the students to sit down at their tables.
The Comparing Numbers recording sheet is projected on “the big screen” while the Comparing Numbers page gets distributed to each kid.
We sing, “Name on your paper—first thing!” as we write our names on our recording sheets and get ready to compare our first groups of numbers. We get our papers ready by carefully coloring the green apple a light green color—placed in containers on each table, and coloring the red apples red. We stress that the line in the middle marks the sides for either counts of green or counts of red apples.
It’s time to get busy, and the boys with green (Granny Smith) apples are asked to stand in front of the class with their apple pictures. As a class, we count the boys who selected green and write the number on the line under the green apple.
Next, we have the boys who chose red apples stand up with their papers and we count them, recording that number on the red side by the picture of the boy. This keeps kids moving and involved in the process of learning, as we get ready for some important practice.
We look at the 4 written by the boy on the green side, and the 7 we just recorded on the red side. I ask the question that is so carefully aligned to AIMSweb: “Which is bigger?”
I call on a student who states, “Red!” and model how to circle the 7 on the red side to show the bigger number (MP.2).
“How do we know that?” I ask, belaboring what may be obvious to some students.
“There’s more red!” a couple students insist, but I play dumb.
“But how do you know???” I ask again.
I actually pair the red students with the green students in the front of the class, stating that if they can be paired up, they’re even, but if one number has left over apples—or students holding apples—then that number is more than the other.
The boys get lined up, and sure enough, 3 boys are left without partners, just standing in front of the room (MP.4)
“So, we can see that there are…”
“More red than green!” kids insist.
We practice this again and again with the different pairings on the recording sheet. Different groups of students are moving up to the front of the class, acting as both models and recorders (MP. 4). We are thinking about numbers and stressing the concept of “Which is bigger?”
On the bottom of the recording sheet are pairs of shapes. Our work groups (or tables) in Room 6 are named after shapes, which again gets different groups of students moving to form new quantities and working together. [To use this in a class without groups named after 2D shapes, simply mark small shapes in the bottom corner of the apple papers, equally dividing the papers into hexagon, rhombus, triangle and rectangle.] Again, the shape groups keep the kids counting new quantities so that we are continually comparing different numbers.
As the students are recording numbers on their sheets, I’m circulating to double-check that numbers are being written accurately in the correct places (MP.6).
We’ve been moving, counting, writing, and comparing numbers. It’s been busy—it’s been fun, and we talk about that! Student input is such an integral part of the end of lessons that math lessons just sort of naturally wrap up with input from students.
There’s a big question to answer, though, and I make sure to ask our helper of the day, if she were making the order for apples in the cafeteria, based on our data or numbers today: What color or kind of apple would she order more of?
We look at our recording pages one last time, and we notice that the red number is always bigger! When Camara says, “Red!” other students are then asked if they agree with Camara’s decision, and they must state why they agree or why they don’t agree (MP.3). Finishing our math with thinking and reasoning about a potential real-world situation… how could it get better than that???