By @SGroshell

Number Corner is a 15 minute student-led way to start your math lesson every day. You can have students practice anything, depending on their needs at that particular time of the year. Right now, for my beginning of the year 2nd graders here’s what we do:

• Calendar
• Putting dates on the calendar, yesterday was, today is, tomorrow will be labels
• Days We’ve been in school Counting Chart
• Practice Count by 2s, 3s, 5s, 10s,
• Number of the day
• Is it odd/even?
• Draw it
• How many hundreds? Tens? Units?
• It is greater than? Less than?
• Tallies
• Number Bond with corresponding Fact Families

My husband, who teaches 4th grade, also does math corner but practices different skills. We have both found that Number Corner has greatly improved our students’ math ability and math confidence. Here are the reasons why you should do it every day.

1. It fosters student independence and confidence

Math corner leaders are some of the favorite student jobs in my class. Every day, 4 math leaders each act as the teacher for one of the skills we are practicing. Math leaders are rotated regularly, so all students get a turn.

What’s great about it is that because students are put in the position of being the teacher, they call on other kids for the answers. This makes it so there’s no nervousness to be the math leader. Although they are physically writing out the math strategies and the answers, they don’t need to worry about being put on the spot.

Additionally, because Math Corner is the same every day (but with different numbers), even students who normally wouldn’t raise their hands feel confident that they know what is coming and that they can do it.

2. It strengthens students’ number sense

Students need time to explore numbers. Every day in my Number Corner, students have a number of the day to play with. They find different ways to describe it, break it apart, and use it in equations.

Manipulating and playing with a different number each day helps to demystify them. Numbers aren’t a part of scary math, but a fun part of school and life!

3. It makes everything else you teach more easily understood

Number sense, patterns and any other goodies you put into your Number Corner will strengthen students’ ability to understand the math in your core lessons.

One big challenge for many early elementary students is how to add and subtract 2 and 3-digit numbers with ‘regrouping’ or ‘borrowing’.

An example of the traditional way to solve an addition problem with regrouping:

When students go through the motions of this by rote memorization, they tend to make silly mistakes and may come up with answers that are way off base (a common answer to 53 + 28 is 711, when students forget to regroup the new ten they made). Playing with the place value of numbers every day by pulling them apart to find the hundreds, tens and units, drawing them and putting them into number bonds has really helped my students understand what they are actually doing when they make a new ten and why.

4. It is a fantastic Opportunity to Throw in Extra Practice on Unclear Concepts

Some concepts take a little practice; others take lots of practice. And at times, you need to move on even though some students still need more practice on a certain skill. That is where your Number Corner can save the day.

Number Corners should be flexible. When you feel like you need to add to something in, add it in! If you feel like a skill is solid and you can take it out, take it out.

One example of how I used my Number Corner to continue practice on something I’d taught was with fact families. The basic concept of fact families is easy to understand, but a lot of practice is needed to be able to fluidly apply them to real life problems.

For every given number bond, there are 4 number sentences which make up the fact family.

 Number Bond Corresponding Fact Family 12 + 9 = 21 9 + 12 = 21 21 – 9 = 12 21 – 12 = 9

When a student knows their fact families, figuring out whether they need to add or subtract with a story problem like this will become simple:

Sarah had 12 pencils. Her mom gave her some more. Now she has 21. How many pencils did her mom give her?

“Well, I know that 12 + __ = 21 is the same as 21 – 12 = ____ and so I know I need to subtract to find the answer.”

This will be especially important when the numbers get even bigger and counting up on fingers is no longer practical. By continuing to practice fact families every day, my students will get to the point where they can this automatically.

5. Some Things Can’t be Taught in Just One Unit

Some concepts are complicated and need lots of practice and application to understand. My example here for my 2nd graders is the calendar. Calendars are an extremely useful tool that adults use constantly, but they are not very straightforward for 7 year olds.

Our first day of school this year was on August 14th. We started with a blank calendar on the board and the date 14. After asking the class, my student leader decided to put it at the top of the calendar in the first space. When I handed out the date 13 and there was no space to put it before 14, the critical thinking began (it ended up being a fantastic 15-minute inquiry lesson).

Although my students did get to the conclusion that the 14th is near the middle of the month and that not all months start on a Sunday, we still have a long way to go. We still need to look at the number of days in each month, the order of the months, how to count forwards and backwards by days or weeks, etc. To get students to the point where they can actually use calendars to help solve problems, we will need to work with them every day.

For anyone new to Number Corner, please check out my Beginning of the Year Number Corner on TpT. It is free and can hopefully give you some ideas of what may work for your class!

How do you use your Number Corner to help student learning? Please share your thoughts with a comment below.