Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Concrete-Representational-Abstract (CRA) Sequence of Instruction in Math

Phew. Long title.
This sequence of teaching is so simple, yet so important! You have probably seen it before or heard it by a different name, but I am really trying to make sure my kids get tons of practice in each level.

Concrete
Students are using actual objects and manipulatives when working on math.
example: When adding, the students use bear counters to sort into groups, count and add.
Representational
Students use pictures, and representations when working on math.
example: When adding, students use ten frames to add 2 numbers together.
Abstract
Students now use symbols and numbers when working on math.
example: When adding, students roll 2 cubes with numbers on them and add together.

Also, its important not to always do the sequences separate of each other. Students need to see how they connect to each other.
Often when students lack a deep understanding in math, it is because they moved too quickly to the Abstract and didn’t spend enough time in the Concrete and Representational parts. If students are struggling with solving number sentences, you need to take them back to using concrete materials and pictures!

Here are some activities my kids have been working on to help us move through the CRA sequence.

Students during my guided math group, were working on subtracting and connecting it with one less. We use counters on our ten frames to show us taking away 1, and then wrote a number sentence to match. (Concrete and Abstract)

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During Math by Myself, students rolled a die, added bears to a ten frame tray, drew a picture on a ten frame to match and wrote a number sentence. (Concrete-Representational-Abstract)

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Students picked a card, drew the number on the ten frame, added one more and then wrote a number sentence. (Representational-Abstract)

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Think of the math activities your kids are working on. How many of those allow the students to have multiple opportunities in the concrete and representational phase before you move them to abstract?
Head on over to the Math Coaches Corner for more amazing ideas around CRA. She is where I get a TON of ideas from!

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