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Finding Differences

Finding Differences

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Published by Digi-Block
Comprehensive Teacher's Guide Grades 3-4 Lesson 2-6
Comprehensive Teacher's Guide Grades 3-4 Lesson 2-6

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Digi-Block on Jul 12, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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n the previous section,students modeled subtraction with the blocks andPlace mats.Through your questions and their recordings,they reflectedon this process.In this section,they predict what will happen when theyseparate the blocks.Students should repeatedly separate collections of blocks of varying amounts.The goal is to consistently predict the result of any separation before they physically perform the task.This focus on predic-tion will lead to successful work without the blocks.When the representationsand expectations are internalized,the actual blocks become unnecessary.
Predicting the Difference
As a demonstration, present the example 459 – 125. Have volunteers recordthe subtraction example on the whiteboard and then represent 459 on theCounter. Ask,
How would you set the dials to tell how many will be left when the blocks are removed?
As with addition, students set the dials and then cover them so as not to con-fuse their thinking while they separate the blocks. After removing the blocksto the Counter mat, the students uncover the dials to check their prediction.Repeat with an example that requires regrouping. Note that during theprocess of separating, students may self-correct. When predicting the differ-ence of 452 – 238, for example, a student might first set the dial for blocks-of-10 to 2; then, after looking at the numbers in the ones place more closely,change the tens dial to 1. Checking predictions with the blocks promotes thisself-correction.Students follow a similar procedure when working with a Place mat. Presentan example such as 364 – 232. Have the students stop once they have repre-sented 364 and say,
Set the Digit Flip Cards to tell how many blocks will be left on the mat after you remove 232.
Students then turn the flip cards face down (similar to covering the dials onthe Counter), remove the blocks indicated, and turn the cards face up again tocheck their predictions.Repeat with an example that requires regrouping, such as 452 – 129. Whenregrouping is involved, students may find it helpful to record, at the top of themat, the number of blocks in a place once new blocks have been regrouped.
Finding Differences
Predicting the outcome of separating groups of blocks,and finding differences without the blocks
The image of blocks in a holder often makes it easier to predict the number of blocks that remain in a column. Thus, you might have students place theblocks in holders when working on the Place mats.
Developing Recording Schemes
As when learning addition, students need to connect their physical work of separating the blocks to conventional recording techniques or to their own ways of recording their actions. Again, you can develop meaning for conven-tional approaches by asking questions such as,
How can you show that you have opened a block-of-100?How can you show where you placed the 10 blocks-of-10?
Some students find it more meaningful to create their own recording techniquefirst. Students who approach the problem in different ways with the blocks will likely create different recording schemes. Following are two examples.The first is from a student who works left to right, self-correcting as the needto regroup becomes apparent. The second is from a student who takes away the ones from the regrouped ten and combines the remaining blocks with theoriginal ones.
152 10 3
6 3 563 52 1 72174 2 841 818
Activity Sheet 3 can be used to help students keep track of the places for thedigits while they are working. Whatever format students are using, providetime for them to show their recordings and explain their thinking to oneanother. When students are comfortable with their invented recordings, youcan present a traditional approach and ask,
Who can figure out what this person was thinking?
Working Without the Blocks
 When students are able to consistently predict outcomes when separatingblocks and are able to record their work, they can begin to subtract
theblocks. Present a written example in vertical form and ask students to find thedifference using paper and pencil or mental computation. As with addition,the blocks should still be available in case students want to check their think-ing or to explore a more challenging example. Provide time for students toexplain or write about their techniques.
 2-6 2-6
 / /     
It is important that students continue to use their number sense and mental image of the blocks to judge the reason-ableness of their results. For example, you might present368 – 121 and ask,
Do you think the difference will be more or less than 200? more orless than 100? Why do you think so?
 You can introduce estimation of differences as the processof reporting only the biggest blocks to tell “about how many” are left. You can also present an example such as601 – 289, which will likely prompt a few students toconsider rounding before estimating. Other students may reason, “600 minus 200 is 400, but there are almost 100blocks-of-10 to take away, so I’ll estimate 300.” Again,encourage students to explore a variety of techniques andto maintain their ability to work flexibly with numbers.Finally, present students with a challenge. Ask students toimagine bigger and bigger blocks, and Counters and Placemats with more and more columns. Ask,
Suppose we were separating two very large groups of blocks, withsome blocks in every column. What would we do?
Provide a subtraction problem with five- or six-digit numbers and ask,
How would you subtract these numbers?
 While use of calculators is recommended for subtraction of large numbers,it is important that students be able to generalize. We want them to realizethat they can subtract any two numbers they are given, by operating in eachcolumn in exactly the same way.
Practicing Key Ideas
Predict on a Counter
Students work in pairs with one Counter.The first student takes a collection of blocks,loads them on the Counter,and records the number on the whiteboard.Thesecond student writes an amount below these digits to show the number of blocksin each place to take away.Students work together to predict the number of blocks that will be left once thatamount is removed.They set the dials to show their prediction.They then cover thedials,remove the blocks (unpacking when necessary),and uncover the dials to check their predicted answer.
 2-6 2-6
Give students time to record and explaintheir techniques for subtracting withoutthe blocks.

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