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Separating Groups of Single Blocks

# Separating Groups of Single Blocks

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Comprehensive Teacher's Guide Gr. K Lesson 3-4
Comprehensive Teacher's Guide Gr. K Lesson 3-4

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07/08/2013

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3-4
Separating Groupsof Single Blocks
3-4
A
basic view of subtraction is one of “separatingor “counting back”from agiven amount.This process is easily modeled on a number line.An initialquantity is shown on the line and then some of the blocks are taken away.This approach works well for small numbers and helps to further children’scounting strategies and understanding of subtraction.
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Separating on the Number Lines
Present a story problem such as the one that follows (replace names withthose of your own students).
(Sean) has 8 blocks.He gives 3 of them to (Rachel).How many blocks does (Sean) have now?
Have children model the problem and find the answer.Tell the children that they are now goingto do the same problem with the number lines. Ask one child to place 8 blocks on aline. Have another child take 3 of theblocks and place them on another num-ber line. You may want children to countback, saying, “seven, six, five,” as theblocks are removed. Ask,
How many blocks does (Sean) have left?
Have children work in pairs with blocksand two number lines. The first childplaces some blocks on the number lineand the other child removes some of those blocks to the other line. Oncefamiliar with the task, children shouldrecord their work. Pairs of children canthen tell their classmates what they didand share their recordings.Discuss with children that what they are doing is separating the groups, or subtracting. When appropriate, introduce the minus (–) and equals (=) signs
Focus
Exploring subtraction with the single blocksand number lines

Children can model the separating process on two number lines,removing some number to the second line to find out howmany are left.

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by building on the children’s drawings and words. Help children to read8 – 3=5 as “eight minus three equals five.”Once they understand the traditional symbols, children can practice using thenumber lines to find differences when given examples such as 29 – 13, and for solving subtraction story problems. Note that children may find different ways to use the number line. For the given example, some children may placethe 29 blocks, remove 13 from the beginning of the line, and then count theremaining blocks. Although not efficient, this approach does work. Over time, as children keep demonstrating their techniques to one another, moreefficient methods will develop. Children will learn to push the blocks back tothe beginning of the line in order to find how many are left. If children con-tinue to take blocks from the left and count those that remain, you might ask,
Is there a way to use the number line to find how many, without counting blocks?
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Predicting Differences
As children find differences in subtraction examples or story problems,encourage them to predict the difference before they actually remove theblocks. Children may count back mentally (if separating a very small number)or count back while touching successive hash marks (for a somewhat larger number). They may also use their hands to approximate the length of thesecond quantity (by placing their hands from zero to that number on the line)and think about decreasing the first amount by that approximate length. Begin with examples such as 8 – 1 and 7 – 2. Have children place a marker  where they think the line will end when these blocks are removed. Countingback by 1 or 2 is an effective counting strategy and children will enjoy findingthat they can predict the outcome. You canthen challenge children with examples suchas 19 – 3 , 24 – 10, and 30 – 20. Invite chil-dren to explain how they arrive at their pre-dictions and then place the blocks to check.Through repeated opportunities to predictexact answers without actually removing theblocks, children develop good number senseand intuitive mental computation skills. Suchabilities take time to develop, but they are very valuable in real-world situations. Encourage children to participate in theproblem-solving process of predictinganswers correctly, and ask them to explaintheir process for doing so.
3-4 3-4
Children begin to predict the result for an example such as 12 – 5before removing the 5 blocks to check.