Note that students may find different ways to use the number line. For exam-ple, to find 73 – 48, some students may place the 73 blocks, remove 48 fromthe beginning of the line, and then count the remaining blocks. Although not very efficient, this approach does work. Over time, as students keep demon-strating their techniques to one another, more efficient methods will develop.Students will learn to push the blocks back to the beginning of the line inorder to find how many are left. If students continue to take blocks from theleft and count those that remain, you might ask,
Is there a way to use the number line to find how many,
As students solve subtraction problems, encourage them to think about what will happen when they remove the blocks and to predict the difference beforethey actually do so. Initially, students may use their hands to approximate thelength of the second quantity and then think about decreasing the firstamount by that length. Some students may note the number of longer hashmarks (tens) in the smaller quantity, and count back that amount from thelarger quantity. You might also provide a benchmark, asking questions such as,
Will there be more or less than 10 blocks after you take away the blocks?
Finally, ask the students to predict exact outcomes before they remove theblocks. Students can place markers on the line to show their predicted answers. Begin with examples such as 34 – 12, then challenge students with examples with larger differences, such as 68 – 13, and finally with examples that requireregrouping, such as 72 – 39. Students then remove the blocks to check.Invite students to explain how they arrived at their predictions. Some studentsmay recognize that to predict 72 –39, they can think about 72 – 40+1. If noone suggests such an approach, ask.
How would finding 72 – 40 help you to predict the answer?
Exploring Other Meanings of Subtraction
Once students develop a clear sense of the “take-away” or separation model,explore other meanings of subtraction. For example, students can investigatestory problems that involve comparison and finding how much more is needed
I have 25 newspapers to deliver.You have 34 newspapers to deliver.How many more newspapers do you have to deliver than I do?