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Elementary Feature - Magic Number Math

The Curriculum Showcase celebrates thoughtful, well designed lessons that are being taught in District 95.  Here we are showcasing what is being taught, how it exemplifies our District 95 mission, and how it ties the curriculum objectives to active learning. Read the summary below the slideshow to learn more.

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Colleen Johnson, Kim Tomczyk, and Suzanne Weider
Grade, Content Area
First Grade; Math
Mission statement traits addressed
Students are continuous learners using magic number to help us achieve our goal of understanding and memorizing our math facts. This is a crucial building block for math concepts in the upper grades.
The children are responsible for knowing their magic number and selecting activities that develop their learning. This is individualized based on the children’s competency.
Local or state objectives addressed
Demonstrate fluency with basic addition and subtraction facts through 12. 
Demonstrate the relationship between addition and subtraction using fact families.
The first grade team at Seth Paine has been working diligently to include more hands-on math lessons. Based on the four day workshop attended last year at the College of Lake County, the teachers have changed their approach to teaching math. “Children need to learn the combinations that add up to numbers; not just attempt to learn math facts by memorization,” explained the team.
“We have assessed our students to determine their “magic number.” This is the lowest number that they do not know the combinations instantly. We are integrating activities to develop this relationship between numbers. Each child is given a packet that focuses on his/her magic number. Along with the packet, the children use math games to further explore the combinations that make up their magic numbers. Our hope is that the children will leave first grade with a better understanding of numbers,” reported the group.
Previously the focus of first grade math at Seth Paine was based on the math basal and emphasized counting strategies.  By determining each child's "magic number" their conversations have centered on the idea that numbers can be pulled apart and put back together many different ways.  “We still use the math basal, but the magic number activities help us enrich our first graders' experiences with numbers.” 
One change teachers have seen is in the level of student engagement. “The children are working at many different levels and we are able to individualize the activities.  They utilize cubes or counters to strengthen their number sense.  This is an area that we felt needed more focus-children working hands-on to understand numbers.”
How has this approach changed assessment in the first grade classrooms? The team reports they continue to use the materials proved by the math basal.  They also use Kathy Richardson's Hidden Counter assessment to determine each child's magic number.  This assessment adds another layer to their understanding of what their children know about numbers.  “This is definitely a work in progress for our team.  It is a collaborative effort on all our parts and we are only in the beginning stages of implementing,” stated the first grade teachers.
Besides the activities the teachers created, many of their resources came from www.theschoolbell.com/Links/math/number_families/main/index.html
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