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Math Strategy Wall

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Jena Simms | Wichita Collegiate School | Wichita, Kansas

Students can refer to a math strategy wall to help them complete math problems.

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Let’s talk about a math strategy wall. What I mean by a math strategy wall is putting up bulletin board or posters like this that give your students the vocabulary they need in order to complete math problems. Some of these that I have up here are: ten frame, counters, fingers, flip-flop, or sometimes people call that the turnaround fact–that’s the vocabulary I use. We talk about doubles in first grade, lower level, elementary grades, we always talk about those doubles. Facts and friends of 10, or combinations of 10: At the beginning of first grade I use concrete tools like this 10 frame and I place it right beside this 10 frame. I’ve recently changed this around, this is the later part of first grade, and so I have taken a lot of these manipulatives down off this wall and pared down. So this 10 frame strategy was next to an actual 10 frame, and I would actually put in the dots that showed what a 10 frame looks like, and we’d talk about maybe our friends of 10. So if I have two dots in our 10 frame and two our 10 frames are filled up, then how many more do I need to make a 10? and so they would tell me, “Eight more,” and then I would say, “What’s the math sentence for that?” And they would say: 2 + 8 = 10; turnaround fact, 8 + 2 = 10. So using actual manipulatives along with your math strategies is a great idea.

The other thing that you could do is use base 10 blocks next to the one where you talk about base 10 blocks. Put your base 10 blocks next to that just to give them a physical reminder of what a base 10 block looks like. And of course, having those manipulatives somewhere in your classroom that the students can use on a daily basis when they’re finding a strategy to complete math problems. So I encourage you to put up a math strategy wall. Look at your math curriculum, and pull out all of those good strategies for your whole year. Maybe have this all typed up or have it in a document ahead of time, and then when you’re ready to teach that strategy, put it up there, and then it’s concrete in the students’ mind. I encourage you to try a strategy wall in your classroom.

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