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Growing Patterns in Fish: First graders at Flynn School in Perth Amboy, NJ, looked for patterns in the growing fish from Marilyn Burns' Algebraic Thinking book.  Students used pattern blocks to make the fish of each age, organized the data in a T-chart, then predicted what older fish would like based on the patterns they found.
Ice Cream Cones: First grade teachers at Flynn School in Perth Amboy, NJ, asked students to figure out how many different 3-scoop ice cream cones they could make make using chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice creams.
Student pairs used cutouts of cones and scoops to assemble then record the different combinations.
My students had been struggling with how to solve addition and subtraction word problems for what seemed like forever.
They could underline the question and they could find the numbers.
Digit Game - 1 challenges students to form the largest number possible using the three digits each player has drawn.
Students must identify the winner of the game and explain how they decided who won.The most important thing about models is to move away from them. You spend so long teaching students how to use models and then you don’t want them to use a model.Well, actually, you want students to move toward efficiency.It’s a shortcut that leads to breakdowns in mathematical thinking.I talk more in depth about why it doesn’t work in The Problem with Using Keywords to Solve Word Problems.I also change numbers throughout the year, from one-digit to two-digit numbers.The beauty of the blank spaces is that I can put any numbers I want into the problem, to practice the strategies we have been working on in class.Hundred Square Puzzles: Students at Port Monmouth Road School in Keansburg, NJ, use patterns to assemble hundred board puzzles.  Teachers create puzzles that vary in both the number and size of pieces to differentiate this activity to best meet the varied needs of learners in the class.  Students then analyzed the data to decide how high most first graders could count.Heads & Tails Data Collection requires students to decide if a two coin tossing game is fair or not if one player wins if the coins match (both heads or both tails) and the other player wins if the coins do not match (one heads and one tails).