Kids Lead the Way the Best

The ten to twenty minutes before lunch each day is our calendar time. It’s a chance for us to review and practice a variety of math skills: patterns, computation, fact families, money, probability, measurement, and so on. We don’t do everything every day and some things are more successful than others.

Today I was unprepared. I had the January calendar all set up back in December, but I haven’t paid attention to┬áit since then so I wasn’t sure what we’d do when we all got there. Yesterday we were busy working on our hopes and dreams for 2018 (a future post because there’s some awesome stuff there) and that ran over into our calendar time. Today we trickled over there as I didn’t want to stop anyone from the work they were finishing on their hopes and dreams.

One of the things we do is add money for the date every day. Well, actually we don’t do it every day but we do add money for each day. We just do it once a week or so. We had a lot to add in December because our last day of school was the 15th. We started the process of adding all that before our winter break but didn’t finish. So I figured we could at least get that done today. Adding 15 + 16 + 17 + 18 + 19 + 20… is pretty time consuming.

One of the first kiddos to join me at the calendar said, “We need $553 to get to $2000.” We had $1447 already so he was right, but instead of saying that I wrote the equation on a white board: 1447 + 553 = 2000 and asked the others if they thought he was right. One girl asked if she could use paper. I said yes and then suggested she grab a little white board and marker instead. Soon a dozen kids had white boards and were doing some math. When someone got stuck they turned to a neighbor and worked together. I just stood there. A little bored, honestly. But good with it.

After a bit I finished the problem too so kids could check themselves – or let me know if I was wrong. The friend who initiated the whole thing noticed we were only adding $475 so we weren’t going to get to $2000. I asked him how short we were. He, and a few others, were off and rolling with that question.

Others began working on adding the $1447 and $475 to see how much money we have now. I did that as well but came up with a different answer than a student so I tried again. I ended up with a different answer but it was still different from my student. As it was time to head to lunch the first little friend and I used a calculator to check the answer. And found that he was right. Of course.

None of that was planned. I was lucky to have enough time (which was only about 15 minutes) to follow through with a student’s idea and keep following their lead. Not every single student was completely engaged during that time, but most were far more engaged than typical. I wish I could harness the feeling in the room during that short time. It’s what teachers are always striving for.

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