Finding the Difference

My second grade math group started this week.  I gave a pre-test on Monday and found that students had some trouble with the word difference.  Many of the second graders saw the word difference and immediately thought subtraction. I could see why students would see this as a quick search reveals difference as being “The result of subtracting one number from another” and “How much one number differs from another.”  I think most students in my class focused on the first definition rather than the latter.  While discussing the word more than a few students brought up that they knew how to find the difference using a method.  It ended up being the standard subtraction algorithm.

On  Wednesday students were introduced to part of a 100 grid and asked to use it to find the difference between two numbers.  Some of the students started to see that difference could be interpreted as distance between.

Screen Shot 2019-09-27 at 7.39.02 PM

Students used two different colors to locate and identify the numbers.  Students then counted the space between the two numbers.  They used hops while moving to the right and then down.

30 + 3 = 33

Another student used the grid to show a different way to find the difference.

3 + 30 = 33

I showed both methods under the document camera and the class discussed how both could work.  Students were then asked to place their strategy on a number line.


Another student raised their hand and wanted to show the class something that they created.

Screen Shot 2019-09-27 at 8.01.40 PM

Next week the class will be investigating regrouping strategies.

Author: Matt Coaty

I've taught elementary students for the past 14 years. I enjoy reading educational research and learning from my PLN. Words on this blog are my own.

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