Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tool of Choice: Digital Camera

We are currently working on adding and subtracting two-digit numbers in Mathematics. My students are leaning how to add two-digit numbers using place value mats and link cube manipulatives. Essentially, they are representing numbers using 10's and 1's (e.g. 58 is made up of 5 tens and 8 ones) and then adding up all their tens and ones to find the sum.

Their task today was to solve the following problem:
The Grade 2 children put on a show. They gave out 28 blue tickets. They gave out 37 yellow tickets. How many tickets did they give out in all. Use materials. Solve the story problem. Show you answer.

One of my struggling students looked distraught immediately after this problem was given to the class. I approached him and asked why he was bothered. He replied by telling me that he had no idea what to do and that he doesn't 'get it'. I told him to gather some link cubes and sit in close proximity to where I would be conferencing with students. He perked up a bit and went to collect his materials. When he returned to my area I had the digital camera out and ready for use. He asked why I had the camera out, I told him that I thought it would be cool if he used the camera to document his work - what materials he used, how he solved the problem, and that he could use the digital pictures to show his answer.

With some hesitation, he went ahead and represented the number 28:

Feeling good about creating 28, he goes ahead and makes 37:

I then support him around what he might want to do next - pointing at the 28 and 37 I ask him how many tickets were given out in total, he proceeds to do this:

HE knew to separate 10's and 1's.
HE knew to take ten 1's and make them into a group of 10.
HE knew how many tickets they gave out in total.

Using the digital camera, we could sit back and look over what he had done - that is all I did. I told him that I would be sharing this and I told him that he needed to continue to stay focused and try.

The tool of choice today was the camera. It was that edge I needed to excite and engage him in a way that would still allow him to do the thinking. I supported him and encouraged him and he needed it.

I value your thoughts/suggestions/comments, please feel free to leave them here.


  1. That is fantastic. Manipulatives make a world of difference and the camera can now be added to the "bag"

  2. In addition to using the camera to motivate your student you were also able to document the process by which they were able to arrive at the answer. By reviewing the process and showing the student your pictures at each step, you are raising his/ her awareness of their own learning and helping them to become more self-directed. You also illustrated 'best practice' on how to use manipulatives in combination with instructional technology to improve learning - Fantastic work Rolland!