In fourth grade, readers have monthly Shelfies to track their independent reading lives throughout the year. Once they complete a book, they write the title on their Shelfie. This practice helps them track their reading volume and book choices. Last year, I decided to add a little math joy to our reading community. This year, I have attempted to add some more variety!
This began as a mental math practice. I would collect each reader’s book count at the end of the month. Then, we’d have a “Book Count Warm-Up” at the start of math. I would begin calling out numbers that readers shared with me.
“8 + 4. . .”
“12 + 2 + 10. . .”
“What just happened in your brain as a mathematician?” Sometimes, I’d have them share out. Other times, I’d have them turn to their neighbor to explain their mental math process.
“24 + 7 + 3. . .”
“Got it? Okay, now add ___ . Give a silent signal when you’re ready.”
In an effort to help all mathematicians feel successful, I worked to find a balance between invitations to shout out vs. silent think time.
This year, as months passed, I decided to make our book count warm-ups visible. We’d been thinking a lot about how friendly numbers can help fourth graders work with larger numbers.
“Take a look at readers’ monthly book counts. Think: What does my brain want to do first to help me find the total?”
The beautiful thing about this is each mathematician has their own approach. They turned to their partner and compared their starting points. They shared out ways that we could get started. Then, we gave it a go! We chunked the large problem into smaller parts. Then, learners considered how to put the parts together. I appreciate how this warm-up routine has emphasized fact fluency for addition and multiplication. Mathematicians now look for groups of a number when readers have equivalent book counts. They’re continuing to make 10 as a friendly number.
For a while, this was a whole class warm-up. Most recently, I decided to try it out as a partner activity. Each partnership received a piece of printer paper with readers’ February book counts on them.
Together, they decided how they would compute 4Q’s IRB (independent reading books) total. When we gathered on the rug, we discovered that all partnerships had successfully calculated 85 books as the sum. Here’s a peek at a few approaches:
The process of linking our reading and math lives is fun and engaging. Then, we make sure our special book count display gets updated:
At the end of the year, we will calculate the class total across all ten months. I think I’ll also have each learner find a way to calculate their own final book count; it’s motivating to study your success! How do you help students track their reading lives? We can’t wait to hear about it and hope you’ll comment below 🙂