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Breaking Down Math (Addition & Subtraction)

Author: Shannon Call

Title: Breaking Down Math (Addition & Subtraction)

Abstract: Through exploration and partner discussions, students will learn how to
solve simple addition and subtraction problems by using solution strategies, such as
counting on, making ten, decomposing, and creating equivalent sums.

Grade level: 1st Grade

In-Class Instruction Time: 45 minutes- 1 hour

Group Size: Individual exploration, partner discussion, class discussion

Life Skill: Learn how to alter numbers without changing the meaning, simple

Teaching Style: Partner exploration, class discussion, individual participation

Intended Learning Outcomes:

Standard 1.OA.6- Add and subtract within 20.

a. Use strategies such as counting on; making ten (for example, 8 +

6 = 8 + 2 + 4 = 10 + 4 = 14); decomposing a number leading to a ten (for
example, 13 - 4 = 13 3 1 = 10 1 = 9); using the relationship between
addition and subtraction (for example, knowing that 8 + 4 = 12, one
knows 12 8 = 4); and creating equivalent but easier or known sums (for
example, adding 6 + 7 by creating the known equivalent 6 + 6 + 1 = 12 +
1 = 13).
b. By the end of Grade 1, demonstrate fluency for addition and
subtraction within 10.

(From Utah Core Standards; Mathematics Grade 1; Mathematical Practices)


Materials: paper, pencils, connecting cubes, double sided coins, tens-blocks,

(anything the students can model addition and subtraction with).

Preparation: Gather materials that students can use to model their mathematics.
Place the items on a table at the front, or back, of the classroom where students can
freely access them.

Instructional Procedures:
1. Begin by writing the following equation on the board: 8+3=. Ask the students to
write down how they would solve this equation. Ask them to write down what
method they used and how they thought about the equation.
2. Pair individuals together. Ask the students to share with their partner how they
solved the equation. Did they use the same method, or did they solve it
differently? If they solved it differently, did they get the same answer? Is it ok to
solve it differently? YES!
3. Ask the students to solve the equation in as many ways they can think of with
their partner. Let them know that they can use the supplies at the front/back of
the classroom. They can draw pictures, write different equations, model the
equation using 3D items.
4. Give the students time to explore different solution methods. Walk around the
class and observe how students are working. If students are struggling, ask
them probing questions, such as Can 8 and 3 be represented in a different
way?, Can you replace 8 or 3 with two numbers that are the same value as 8
or 3?, Tell me what you are thinking., Tell me what youve done so far.
Make sure to not give the students direct answers. Let them explore and
struggle for a minute and allow them to critically think.
5. While you are walking around the class, find some examples of student work
that you feel is important to the standard. Some student work might look like/be
represented as 8+3=8+2+1=11 or 8+3=1+7+3=11.
6. Call the class to attention and ask the students youve chosen to show their
work. If they give a vague explanation, ask them clarification questions. Open
up the opportunity for students to ask clarification questions.
7. After students share their work, write the following equations on the board:
A. 6+6=
B. 6+7=
C. 13-9=
D. 15+11=
E. 18-17=

Ask the students to explore the methods their peers proposed. Ask them to try
a new method that they hadnt thought of.

Ask the students to write down their favorite methods to solve the equations.
What methods allows you to solve the equation the fastest? What method
helps you understand the equation the best? What method helps you visualize
the equation the best?