Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Babbling About Math...Model Drawing and Greg Tang!

      When I told a few friends how EXCITED I was to go to math sessions at the Extraordianry Educators Conference in Chicago, they thought I was CRAZY!  I was thrilled for an opportunity to attend two sessions with Greg Tang and a session with Anni Stipek about model drawing.  Both of who, presented strategies for math instruction that I hope to implement immediately upon returning this fall!  

Model Drawing-
      Are you familiar with model drawing?  I am incredibly lucky to get to work with tow fantastic AIG (Gifted) teachers at my school.  THey both have provided me with information about model drawing and resources for practicing model drawing.  Being during the year, when they gave me this information, I kept putting it off and saying I would figure it all out later.  Well, later arrived!  
      Basically, model drawing creates visual representations that can be concrete at first and then they become more abstract.  We learned about model drawing by practicing solving problems using model drawing.  We began very basic and moved to 4th or 5th grade Common Core Standards.  I am NOT a fan of fractions, but with model drawing, I could solve a 5th grade fraction problem, quickly and accurately!  It was all about the way the problem was set up and processed.  
      It teaches students to identify the parts of the problem, what the question is asking, decide what the answer they are looking for is, and then they begin to model the problem.  This is an excellent book for understanding how to use model drawing.  

      This is a website that I did use last year.  It lets the students determine the known numbers in the problem and the unknowns. They can resize the blocks to demonstrate the differences in values and then solve the problem.  It is a great way to have students practice.  My students used this website on the Smartboard, during math stations.

Greg Tang- 
     I could tell you about Greg Tang's presentations FOREVER!  So, I will try to keep it short and sweet. If you ever get the opportunity to hear him speak/present, you need to go!
      One of his biggest focuses during the sessions was the importance of teaching students to THINK well!  He began by asking how smart people are different than the rest.  He went on to explain that smart people are able to take information and apply it (generalize) to new situations by making connections.  Students who are good at math are able to take what they know about numbers and apply it to new situations with numbers.  
      He went on to talk about the connections we make with numbers.  He stressed the fact that too many students do not make connections when moving from counting single objects to counting groups and therefore they remain what he called "counters".  Counters are those students who when given a math problem will almost always resort back to counting b/c of the way they see the numbers.  For example, when I see a 5, I shouldn't just see a set of 5 ones, I should also see a group of 2 and 3.  Teaching this thought process early on will build a strong mathematic foundation. My goal this year is to NOT create a group of counters, but to create deep thinkers who SEE numbers differently!  
    I could honestly talk about his session forever, so here are a few other things you should look into:
  • Funny numbers (teaching 2-digit addition) This is GENIUS!!  Look into how he says to teach funny numbers.  It makes SO Much sense! I am counting down the days until I get to teach this!
  • His games and worksheets.  He has a ton of FREE games and worksheets at www.gregtangmath.com.  
  • His books are FREE and online with animation.  
  • He has printable games in color that could be laminated and put in a math station/center.  
     I know, I know, I am babbling!  I just had to share some about these great sessions.  They had me ITCHING to get back in the classroom and start teaching math!  
     If at the least, google Greg Tang and Model Drawing. I promise it will be worth your time!



  1. LOVE that Thinking Blocks website! What a wonderful way to walk students through problem solving! Thanks for sharing!

    :) Tamra and Sarah
    First Grade Buddies

    1. Isn't it amazing?! My kids loved using it and they didn't realize that they were problem solving all along! I love that it can be used in so many grade levels, too.

  2. Wow Michelle, this is great. Thank you so much for sharing what you learned. I am always fascinated to hear about new techniques and skills to teach our students...esp in math! Googling him right now. Thanks again!

    First Grade with a Cherry on Top

    1. Meghan, have fun googling!! You will love what you find!


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