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High Impact Digital Math Routines for Distance Learning

Math, Technology, Virtual Routines

Written by: Jess Dalrymple

Teaching math using our favorite routines like number talks and counting collections might seem impossible in a distance learning environment. But, we can leverage online tools and keep those high impact math routines alive and well in our digital classrooms!

In this post, we explore how to implement two highly effective math routines in a digital format. Read on to learn how you can still use counting collections and number talks effectively in your virtual classroom.

Digital Math Routine: Counting Collections

The Counting Collections digital math routine is effective for building number sense by learning ways to use groupings of numbers to count more efficiently. This builds a strong foundation for the concept of multiplication in the early grades.

What are counting collections? In the physical classroom environment, students work alone or with a partner to count a collection of manipulatives. You can offer beans, beads, q-tips, pattern blocks, counting bears, pasta, etc. But that's not the only way to set up this highly effective math routine! In a digital classroom, it works much the same way, with the biggest difference being that students count digital objects. (If you are new to using digital math manipulatives, check out this post:Math Manipulatives for Google Classroom & Seesaw to see how they can be used in Google Classroom and Seesaw.)

How to get started with counting collections digitally: 

Start with a few demonstration lessons. You can record a video or demonstrate live. 

1- Share the goal for the activity (i.e. Count within 1000; skip-count by 5s, 10s, and 100s).

2- Before the demonstration, open a digital counting mat and copy/paste the set number of digital manipulatives you want to use right on top of the mat. (Digital mats and manipulatives are included in our Lucky Little Toolkit resource.) 

3- Ask aloud, “How could I count my collection?” Then, demonstrate making a plan for how you’ll count. Brainstorm a variety of ways. By ones? 5s? 10s? By organizing the 10s into 100s? 

4- Demonstrate counting using the plan you chose. Click and drag to count the objects. 

5- Model how to record your answer and create a visual representation to show your process. (See options for digital recording in the next section.) 

6- If your demonstration is live, wrap up with a discussion. Talk through whether students thought your counting method was the most efficient way to count. 

7- After you’ve demonstrated the counting collections process a few times, release your students to work independently on counting their own digital collections. 

Tips for Implementing Digital Counting Collections

→Prompt students to make a plan for counting first. 

→Check on your students’ progress. Be prepared with questions to push their thinking: 

  • What’s your plan for counting today? Why did you choose that plan? 
  • How did you count your collection? 
  • How many objects were in your collection? Can you prove that to me? 
  • Can you count your collection a different way? How? 
  • Can you think of a more efficient way to count your collection? Why is this way more efficient? 
  • Are you using a strategy to count your collection efficiently? 
  • Do you see a pattern in your counting?

→The goal is to watch for students who demonstrate “group to group correspondence”. If a collection was 200+ you would want to see kids counting out groups of 10’s. From there, you would hope to see students organizing ten groups of ten into larger groups of 100. 

→When kids finish counting, they record their total and create a visual to show how they counted. Early finishers can recount their collection a different way.

→Kids can use the “scribble” feature in google slides or the “edit” feature in google classroom on an ipad or iphone to show how they counted or label their counting. 

→If some or all of your students would be more successful writing their responses by hand, allow them to take a picture of the work, and insert the photo into Google Slides or Seesaw. 

→If your students find the scribble feature in Google Slides difficult, they can insert and type into a text box to show their thinking.

→Don’t forget to wrap up the counting collection routine with whole group sharing! You can pull up particular students’ mats on your screen and ask the student to share the strategy they used to count the objects.

Digital Math Routine: Number Talks

Number Talks are a powerful way to build number sense. This routine offers students the opportunity to share their math thinking, and to stretch the limits of their understanding by hearing their peers’ thinking as well.

Watch this video to see a second grade number talk demonstration. 

More Resources to Enhance Your Online Lessons

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