Breakthrough Challange-Place Value edition!

Several weeks ago, my colleagues and I had the amazing opportunity to see James Nottingham speak on education and the importance of giving students the tools to succeed at school by promoting their growth. One of the amazing tools and ways to do such as he explained is through this idea of a ‘breakthrough’; essentially presenting something new to the students and allowing them to figure it out using their prior knowledge and problem solving skills.  I immediately thought of fun and exciting ways to implement this idea of breakthrough in my classroom!
The following week, I presented the weekly Breathrough Challenege in my class during Math Facts! Every week (mid week) the students would be given a question related to the math concept we are studying. Students would be able to use their prior knowledge to solve the question and conversely, have a breakthrough in their learning! This is a great tool to introduce new concepts as the questions that arise during the consolidation of the Challenege can lead the inquiry of the next concept.
The Breakthrough Challenge for this week surrounded the hundreds block in place value. Students were already familiar with the tens and ones blocks. The question presented to them was how many tens and ones blocks can you fit in this hundreds block? Using the chart down below, in a group they had to discuss what they thought and how they knew using the blocks provided to them as their evidence.

The consolidating of these Breakthrough Challenges are our favorite part of the experience as we all love to hear what everyone came up with and their rationale behind their answers! It’s always great to see my students so excited about their learning; especially when it is through their own discoveries!

Zahra (banner)


How Big is My Shadow?

Kids are naturally inquisitive and shadows are endlessly fascinating.  I needed to 1) help students inquire into how the light changes throughout the year 2) how this affects both living and non-living things and 3) cover measurement, time, and data objectives at the same time.  Whew!  Plus I needed to make sure my EAL kiddos understood all of these ideas, which meant it needed to be a hands-on-activity.  I decided that we would document our shadows at several points throughout the year and then inquire into why they change.  I had to pat myself on the back for such a great idea.  Inquiry into time and measurement

Except, hmmmm, I forgot an important thing.  Scandinavia hides the sun behind thick clouds most of the fall and winter.  For two weeks I would walk around outside to determine if the sunlight was clear enough for the kids to outline shadows.  It took two weeks, but we finally had a clear day.  We quickly ran outside with our roll of paper, scissors, and markers.  Word to the wise: I forgot to account for wind- take things to weigh the paper down with.  1st grade measurement
A day later we measured the shadows using both standard and nonstandard units.  We recorded our findings and compared them to our earlier shadows that we had taken at roughly the same time of day two months before.  Even though the kids knew the basic science about how the earth moves around the sun this activity led them to ask more in-depth questions.  It also gave them a purposeful reason to have ACCURATE measurements.  kindergarten measurement

The journaling pages we used along with other time investigations and games are available in my store at both Teachers Notebook and Teachers Pay Teachers.  Though this activity can easily be recorded in kids own math journal that they normally use in class.  Telling time games
Jenny (banner)


Investigating Nonstandard Measurement

investigating measurementWe had a brilliant inquiry planned where kids would go outside and we would measure their shadows. Somehow we forgot two things: 1) it is fall and 2) we’re in Scandinavia.  The sun was completely hidden behind clouds which is probably where it will be for the foreseeable future.  So we had to switch up our plan.

I crafted a story about how a long time ago people used to get around by riding horses.  (Side note: We took a vote and PYP1 would still prefer horses to cars.)  To get an idea of how tall a horse was they would measure it with their hands.  I picked a student in the class and showed how I could put my hands end over end to measure her.  PYP 1 thought this was a brillant way to measure.  I then asked the smallest child in the class to come up and measure the same student with their hands.  The predictable result was that our measurements did not match.  PYP 1 revised their previous opinion and wondered how we could ever know how tall this child really was.   

nonstandard measurementWe debated about measuring with things in our classroom.  Pencils were picked but none of our pencils were the same size.  While they were thinking about this, I showed them a Sid the Science Kid clip.  After the clip which talks about nonstandard forms of measurement they were sure that they knew what to do.  

They took everything that they could find in our classroom that had a standard size. (Dominoes, white board markers, popsicle sticks, math cubes, etc) and started measuring each other and every surface they could find.  Today we just let them explore and tomorrow we’ll try the activity again and try to write down the data we find.  We still need to reflect on why using a unit that is always the same matters, but they’ve picked up the conceptual understanding that you need units, what they are and how they work.  (PYP Key Concepts: Form and Function)kindergarten measurement PYP

Jenny (banner)