Saturday, October 26, 2013

Number Paths ~ A Fabulous Tool for Kindergarten and First Grade Math!

Number lines are common in primary classrooms - but a number path may be a better tool for many students to use as they work with addition, subtraction and comparison problems. 

A number line uses a model of length. Each number is represented by its length from zero. Number lines can be confusing for young children. Students have to count the "hops" they take between numbers instead of counting the numbers themselves. Students' fingers can land in the spaces between numbers on a number line, leaving kids unsure which number to choose (Fuson et al, 2009). 


A number path is a counting model.  Each number is represented within a rectangle and the rectangles can be clearly counted. A number path provides a more supportive model of numbers, which is important as we want models that consistently help students build confidence and accurately solve problems.
I have been using number paths for a few years and highly recommend them for use in Kindergarten and First grade. 
Most major publishers are not yet utilizing number paths. So, I wrote some word problems using number paths. Click here to download the free samples shown below.   

Students are presented with multiple ways to solve each problem. Once students are familiar with the ways these sheets support their problem solving, I often have each student choose at least 2 ways to show and check their work. This allows each student to utilize the methods that are most efficient for him/her. I love to give students time to discuss why they chose certain methods to solve a problem! 

Each sheet includes a related extension/bonus question at the bottom. These questions can be used in a variety of ways. 

These bonus questions are perfect extension activities for students to discuss and complete at home with a family member. I love to see the extension work that students return! Many parents have commented that they appreciate the challenging nature of these questions.

When these word problems are used for whole-group instruction, it is common for some students to have completed tasks while others still need support. “Early finishers” can read the bonus question, flip their paper over and work on this challenge question while the teacher provides individual and/or small group instruction as needed. In this way, these bonus questions help teachers differentiate during group lessons. 

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.  :) Anne