Today we worked on addition strategies. One in particular; making 10. I would never have thought to teach such an advanced concept to 6 year olds but this is what the District's new math adoption says to do. So, the idea is to teach the kids to make 10 from the two addends in order to make adding them together easier. For example, 9+6 becomes 10+5. I was stumped when I looked at the student pages (also known as workshits by renowned brain researcher Dr. Mary Howard). How can I teach this concept to six year olds that are still struggling to understand what 10 is? But I went after it regardless because that is the next lesson in the book. I don't teach like this! Why am I teaching like this? I am least confident in my ability to teach math. I am most easily led by a mathematics teacher's manual. I once knew our state math standards inside and out but that was when I still taught kindergarten. Two years ago, I left what I feel is my true calling, teaching kindergarten, to teach 1st grade. The idea was to reduce my workload and therefore my stress and free myself up to spend time with my family. There is less prep work but there is new stress in that I am not as familiar with the 1st grade learning standards. Of course, I'm making the transition to the literacy standards comfortably. But math is a different story. How can I help my students gain these learning standards when I can't master them myself? I decided to take it slowly and think about what I know about how six year olds learn. They have to see it and feel it if they are going to have a chance to understand it. I made ten-frames and passed out counting cubes. I made up addition stories using my students' names (they are always more interested when they think it is all about them) and had them place 9 cubes on the ten-frame. Then, continuing the story, had them add 6 more counting cubes to the ten-frame and the leftovers below it. I asked them to tell me how many cubes were in the ten-frame: "10," and then asked how many cubes were outside of the ten-frame: "5". That's how we turned 9+6 into 10+5. They used the manipulatives throughout the lesson and most were able to complete their work with very little help. Will they be able to recreate this scenario and use it effectively to solve addition problems? A few of them will. Maybe when they see this concept again in 1st grade and again in 2nd grade and each grade beyond, it will resonate somewhere in their young minds. More than likely they will develop their own strategy to solve addition problems. Hopefully, what they learn the most is that they can solve problems with a little help from Mrs. Ortner.