Primary Chalkboard: 5 Ways to Dig Deeper with Number Lines

5 Ways to Dig Deeper with Number Lines

Hi, friends! I'm Blair from One Lesson at a Time, and I'm so excited for my first post over here at the Primary Chalkboard! I am a number line fanatic. They are such an amazing tool to use with so many different math skills. By helping students flexibly use a variety of number line strategies, we can really help them develop deep and meaningful number sense.



Today I am rounding up 5 of my favorite applications for number lines. I'll link you to a few other posts that I've written and some resources that I've created that will help you dig deeper into number line strategies in your classroom.

And away we go!



Rounding can be a super frustrating skill to teach. There are a lot of "tricks" for teaching rounding - and once I ditched them, my quality of life improved significantly. By introducing rounding on a number line, students are immediately set up for success with the underlying conceptual understandings that help us get why we round up or down. 

I don't want to oversell this, but this post on my blog has more information about the lesson that changed my life. Dramatic? Yes. Accurate? You betcha.

Open number lines are probably my current favorite thing, surpassing even my fondness for cheese. Ok, well, I really, really love cheese, so that may be a bit of an overstatement. But I really do love them. 

I was actually inspired to really get into open number lines after seeing this piece of mathematical artwork by one of the 3rd graders at my school:


I MEAN. Is that not a thing of beauty?!?! In this blog post, I do my best to demystify open number lines and show tons of different ways that they can be used as a problem solving strategy.



"Zooming in on a number line" is a quick and easy activity I like to do with my students at least a few times a month. This really helps students with a few fundamental understandings. It's a great way to illustrate which numbers "live" between the intervals when the intervals are greater than 1. You can click over to this post on my blog for more information and pictures.




The Common Core standards for 3rd grade (specifically 3.NF.2) are very explicit about the need for students to be able to understand and represent fractions on number line diagrams. I love using interactive notebooks to teach math, and find them to be particularly helpful with this standard. We first use a flap book to break down the vocabulary....


Then, I give them some guided, hands-on practice in partitioning number lines into fractional parts.  I find that one of the trickiest things about fractional number lines can be that students are often tempted to count the lines rather than the intervals. Allowing them to physically fold the number lines is super helpful in clearing up this common misunderstanding. 




Once they've gotten the hang of it, they are ready for a few more practice activities.




The activities pictured above are all part of my interactive notebook pack for 3.NF.2, which is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.


Elapsed time is another one of those skills that many teachers prepare to teach by tripling their daily coffee consumption. It can be tricky stuff, no doubt. And CCSS 3.MD.1 ups the ante by explicitly stating that students need to be able to represent elapsed time on a number line diagram. This really wasn't something that I had ever done prior to the Common Core, so I initially felt some trepidation about it. But, HOLY GUACAMOLE. Using number line diagrams for elapsed time was a game changer for my kiddos. It REALLY helps them "get it". So I am now a full-on believer. I use these elapsed time lines to tackle this standard with my students - they are available in my TpT store.




Thanks so much for stopping by Primary Chalkboard today! I'm so excited to be an official "Chalkie", and I can't wait to come back soon and share more teaching ideas with you. 

Happy Teaching!



2 comments:

  1. Excellent post! Then again, I automatically trust any math teacher who starts off with "no tricks needed!".

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  2. Fabulous post! My kids have a deep understanding of rounding due to the number line. Can't wait to use your fraction INB's when we get to that module!

    Brandi
    Swinging for Success

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