Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mystery Math {My Observation!}

On Monday I was observed formally by my assistant principal. Everyone in our school has to be observed at least once formally and twice informally. I now have all my observations for the year done! (Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)

Sooo hear is how it all went down...

I was very nervous..I had butterflies in my stomach...we had just come back from recess, finished calendar, and finally at 12:15 on the dot my AP walks in!

I launch right into my learning goal which was "We will be able to understand how to subtract multiples of tens from two-digit numbers." Yes, wordy I know! I went over the vocabulary with the help of my anchor chart:

If you read to the bottom this is the same easel the kid hid behind. Lol! 

Then I had my students try to put the learning goal in their own words. They did a fabulous job and then I modeled with our magnetic ten tower cubes how to subtract. I had to remind my wiggly ones our rug rules of sitting with our hands in our lap, feet still, ears listening, eyes watching, and lips zipped! They mostly were just fiddling with their shoelaces.  We then watch a little visually animation that is part of my Envision math series. It break down subtracting into digestible bites and gets the students thinking out loud. I of course stopped to ask questions and check to make sure they were understanding. The kids answered the questions and impressed me on how quickly they were understanding.

I then had my students go back to their desks while my material managers took out the math buckets with ten towers and ones cubes and passed out paper. While the students were get situated I wasted no time in telling them the proper way to use their cubes and how to use their whole body listening.

After everyone was settled with manipulatives in hand I read our first word problem. To my little ones surprise it involved them! I used their names in the cards I made for my subtraction games. They ate it up! They were so excited to see who was next. Here are what the cards looked like.

I have no idea why they look all squished and blurry...they don't look like that on my PDF and powerpoint.

Example: Carl has 83 apps on his iPad. He gives 30 to Jen. How many apps does Carl have on his iPad now?

Carl* (fake name) got so pumped that I said his name and told our AP who was sitting near him "I actually do have an iPad! I really do!" Well I got points for relating it to their real world!

We did four examples like this and then moved on to our Mystery Math game! All I had to do was say we were playing a game and my students all straighten up with excitement. They actually put down their cubes (which are oh so fun to play with) and folded their hands on their desk. Wow!

I explained and showed them how to play the game. I put cards that have subtraction problems in envelopes that said mystery math on them. I had the answer on round cards on separate cards. They had to play detective and solve the math problem and find the matching card/student. The students with the answers had to look for which card/student might have their problem.

Cards to place on the envelope. 


I gave my students who I knew had the concept down the answers and my students who needed more help the subtraction problems. They loved the game! I walked around helping students and seeing who made matches already. While I was doing this Carl decided to hide behind my easel. Umm what?!

This is how that went down:
Me: What are you doing? (stern whisper voice)
Carl: Umm I'm playing mystery math! I'm the mystery number and I need to hide cause I'm a mystery! (very soft whisper because he doesn't want to be found)
Me: Well this isn't like hide and seek. The person needs to just find your number.
Carl: Oooh.. (slowly comes out from behind the easel)

Haha..oh kids! I know I clearly went over the directions. This child just wanted to enhance the game a little bit. FYI he is gifted...leave it up to the gifted ones to make up their own rules.

After our fun mystery math game I wrapped up the lesson and referred back to our learning goal. All of my students showed me that they understood. I was so proud of them and they gave high fives to each other. At this point my AP left the room.

I was sad she didn't get to stay to see how math centers are run. I know she wanted to stay but she was out sick Friday and had to make up other teachers observations.

I group my students by ability into 4 groups. My group that usually needs more assistance or just needs to work in a small to understand works with me first. Then I have my other groups go to Moby Max on the computers, play hands on games, and do independent seat work.

Here is what I used for hands on games:

This is Moby Math: It's a free! It teaches kids mini-lessons on concepts they need to work on in math. Then they have to solve problems and play timed games. They get badges when they complete a concept. It is a fabulous tool to help kids with fact fluency and in those areas where they need extra practice. Each student is on their own level and you can monitor how much they practice in class and at home. It has been a great addition to my classroom this year!

Click on the picture to check it out!

Since I think you are all wonderful followers for this week only I am putting up my Mystery Math game for free on TPT! Click on the page that says Mystery Math to view it on TPT. Check it out and have fun with your kids! 


  1. Sounds like it went great!! Love your lesson! So creative and so much fun! We start double digit addition/subtraction in two weeks! I'm totally stealing this! Glad Carl found his seat, it's first grade, there's always going to be one!

    1. Thanks! My kids actually did really well this year with double addition and subtraction. I'm glad you can use this in your room too! If you could only see Carl's darling face...oh my word...I'm laughing and smiling at his sweet innocence.

  2. Ok...we have EnVision math too. What do you think about it!? I am sure your observation was fabulous :)

    1. I have been using Envision for 3 years now and I like it. Some of the topics can be challenging but I feel like I've finally made it my own. I pick and choose what I use from it and love how they took out and put in what we needed for Common Core this year.

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