As students walk in from lunch, I hand each student a plastic penny, quarter, or dime. They’re still in my math kit from a few years ago, but if you don’t have plastic coins, I would borrow them from 2nd grade teachers and tell them with a wink, that you’re helping them out! If your 2nd grade team doesn’t have the plastic coins, you could use real coins, if you gather coins like I do—or you could use pictures of coins on paper as a last resort. (I really like using something tactile.)
We talk about the coins, and as my 2nd grade teacher buddies have lamented, kids don’t know their coins anymore, I see. Maybe it’s the advent of debit cards, maybe it’s something else, but we have a little discovery talk about the colors, sizes, and pictures on our various coins (MP.6) for a few minutes.
“Well, friends,” I announce, “As much as I enjoyed talking about coins with you—what did we have again? Pennies, dimes, and quarters, that’s right—we need to count up coins and compare what we’ve got!”
The helper of the day passes out our Comparing Coins recording sheets and we sing our little, “Name on your paper, first thing!” jingle as we write our names. I write my name on my Comparing Coins page, which is projected on “the big screen.”
This page is formatted like our Comparing Numbers activity from the apple comparison earlier in the week, so students are somewhat familiar with what we will be doing. This is good, as ultimately, I want students to be familiar with the process of comparing two numbers.
I ask students with quarters to bring their quarters up to the front of the class. They stand in a line, and we count their quarters (MP.4). As we count, I point to the students, and each student counts the successive number, so they must be paying attention as other students are counting.
We all record the number of kids with quarters on the line on our recording sheet.
Next, the kids with pennies are called up to stand and count (MP.4). Again, as we did before, each child says the next number, so the students must be paying attention to others while we count to determine the size of our group.
We write the number of kids with pennies on the line by the penny.
Next, we look at the 7 by the picture of the quarter and the 6 by the penny, and I ask the question: “Which is bigger?”
We agree that it’s close, but 7 is bigger than 6, so the helper of the day comes up to circle the 7 on the recording sheet (MP.2)
We continue comparing groups of students with coins, which keeps us focused, keeps us engaged and moving, and most importantly, keeps us thinking about which numbers are bigger as we record different pairs of numbers.
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 (MP.2).
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 talk about the different coins, we talk about comparing numbers, and students are noting that it’s getting easier to compare two numbers. I assure them that it’s a good thing, because we will be using what we know about comparing numbers for our upcoming AIMSweb Benchmark test. I mention there’s a couple important differences: they won’t have to write numbers, but they will have to say the bigger number fast.
As we line up to go to PE, I give two students at a time cards with single-digit numbers written and ask, “Which is bigger?” so that if two boys, with a 3 and an 8 line up together, the students say, “8!” quickly. We get this last little bit of practice in as we wrap up our lesson.