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Finding Sums

# Finding Sums

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Comprehensive Teacher's Guide Grades 3-4 Lesson 2-3
Comprehensive Teacher's Guide Grades 3-4 Lesson 2-3

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07/12/2013

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2-3
Finding Sums
2-3
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n the previous section,students learned to model addition with the blocksand Place mats.Through your questions and their recordings,they beganto reflect on this process.Now they start to predict what will happen whenthey combine the blocks.Students need many opportunities to combine collections of blocks.In fact,they should do so until they can consistently predict the result of any com-bination before they physically perform the task.This focus on predictionwill lead to successful work without the blocks.When the representationsand expectations are internalized,the actual blocks become unnecessary.
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Predicting the Total
As a demonstration, present the example 215+362. Have volunteers repre-sent the numbers on the Counter and table and record the example on the whiteboard. Then say,
Set the dials to tell how many there will be when these two groups are combined.
Once the dials are set, students cover them and then combine the blocks.(Covering the dials keeps the numbers from distracting the students.) After combining the two groups on the Counter, the students uncover the dials tocheck their predictions.Repeat with an example that requires regrouping, such as 434+128. For thisexample, a student might first set the dial for the blocks-of-10 at 5, thenchange that dial to 6 after looking more closely at the single blocks.Note that when predictions are checked and found to be incorrect, the stu-dents can simply reset the dials to show the actual number of blocks on theCounter. Encourage students to realize that we all find predictions difficultto make, but that we get better with practice. If you notice consistent errors,however, you might encourage the students to reflect on discrepancies by saying, for example,
I see that your dial for the blocks-of-10 is 1 less than the number of blocks. Why do youthink that happened?
Students follow a similar procedure when working with the Place mats.Present an example such as 235+123. Tell the students to stop once they have represented the numbers and recorded the example on paper. Then say,
Set the Digit Flip Cards to tell how many there will be when you combine these two groups.
Focus
Predicting the outcome of joining groups of blocks,and finding sums without the blocks

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After setting the flip cards, studentsturn them face down and then combinethe blocks on the Place mat. Studentsturn the cards back over to checktheir predictions.Repeat with an example that requiresregrouping, such as 334+229. Whenregrouping is involved, students may find it helpful to record the total number of blocks in each column at the top of the mat. Looking at these numbers canhelp students to predict how the blocks will look when they are packed.The image of blocks in a holder oftenmakes it easier for students to predicttotals in a column. Thus, you might have students place the blocks in holders when working on the Place mats.Students need repeated opportunities to predict the outcome of joining twogroups with the blocks in view. Lack of attention to this step often leads todifficulty with the development of mental computation strategies and withthe transfer to paper-and-pencil techniques.
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Developing Recording Techniques
To support computation with paper and pencil, encourage students torecord their work as they combine the blocks. You can either guide themto record in the conventional manner or allow students to develop their own recording schemes. Either way, there should be a close associationbetween the written work and the physical actions with the blocks. It canhelp to ask questions such as,
How can you show the new block-of-100 on the written example?
Activity Sheet 3, the Three-Place Recording Sheet, may help students tokeep track of the appropriate place for each digit while they are working. It isnot necessary, however, that all students depict the combining process in thesame manner. In fact, variations promote interesting discussions that can leadto deeper understanding as well as efficient recording techniques. What’simportant is that students use recordings that are meaningful to them and thatconnect to the physical models.
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For adding on a Place mat,predicted totals on the Digit FlipCards are turned face down while the students combineand pack blocks.

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Following are two examples of students’ different recordings for the sameproblem. The first is from a student who uses lined paper turned on edge andrecords the sum in each column, working right to left, and then regroups in asecond step. The second example is from a student who works left to right,self-correcting as she discovers the need to regroup.
2562 5 6+ 39+ 3 928152 8 52952 9 5
When students are comfortable with their recordings for a particular combi-nation, have them explain their work. Then you can present a traditionalrecording and ask,
Who can figure out what this person was thinking?
Encourage the students to talk about what the recordings mean and whichtechniques might be easier. For example some students might note that with traditional techniques, they don’t have to revisit any digits. Over time,students can adopt conventional methods or develop their own reliable andefficient recording schemes.
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Working Without the Blocks
When students are able to consistently predict what will happen when com-bining groups of blocks and are able to record their work, they can try adding
without
the blocks. Present a written example in vertical form and ask studentsto find the sum using paper and pencil or mental computation. Over time,students should also use such techniques to solve story problems and to findsums when examples are presented horizontally as well as vertically. Even when working without blocks, these tools should still be available toeveryone. Students may want to use the blocks to check their thinking or toexplore a more challenging example. As students begin to work on paper, itis important that they continue to use their number sense and their mentalimage of the blocks to judge the correctness of their results. In fact, somestudents, while working on paper and pencil, move their hands as if they werepacking and moving blocks. Estimation is also helpful here. For example, you might present the combina-tion 368 + 221 and ask,
Do you think the sum will be more or less than 500? more or less than 600? Why?
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