Tackling the Tiles with Tenacity

What is the problem with this set of digits? (Note: This is not the same number we used in class.)


This was the question posed to our inquisitive inquirers today.

After some discussion, it was determined that this set of digits:

  • was difficult to read.
  • has lots of numbers.
  • has no places.
  • has some repeated digits.
  • included no operations (+, -, x, ÷).


When a single comma was added, the following observations were made and questions posed:

  • There are not enough commas.
  • Is it greater than or less than a million?

Our brains were exercised further when the number was changed to look like…


At this point, we were able to determine that the number is:


We discussed the purpose of place and the meaning of value. And, returning to our observation about repeated digits, we compared how they are different.

Quick Quiz: In this number, how are the repeated  twos, fours, and eights different? Jot your thinking in the padlet below.

**Be sure to include your initials in the title.**

Made with Padlet

As scholars, we know it is important to use multiple sources, so this lead to a discussion about tools we can use in our classroom to better understand and work with numbers. Two tools are included below.

Place Value Chart

Place Value Chart (Currency Connection)

Willing to learn, scholars puzzled about place value problems with their peers using Marcy Cook’s Math Tile Task Cards.

Give the example below a try.

Showing diligence and determination, each math-magician read the clues, wrestled with the numbers, reflected on choices, and made revisions as new realizations were made. Rewarding!


(Phrase of the day (well, one of them): Growth Mindset)

Multiple Source: Marcy Cook Math

Tiling tasks used in class have been acquired from Marcy Cook Math. iPad apps are available through the Apple Store, if interested.


Converse. Capture. Construct. Consider.

Today, our learning community came together to find commonality. This quest for connection actually began yesterday as we worked to create a set of question cards to help spark conversation during lunch. The list included:

  • “What is your favorite animal?”
  • “What kind of books do you like to read?”
  • “How do you spend your breaks?”

Our work was tested during lunch today as groups of third, fourth, and fifth graders joined together over a midday meal to make unfamiliar faces familiar. After lunch, one of our scholars reported back with excitement that she had made a new friend in fifth grade, and it all started with ONE question. From there, the conversation flowed freely. Fabulous!

This afternoon, groups of scholars continued to engage in conversation in an effort to find things they had in common. Foods, family, feet, furry things, favorites, and foreign lands were discussed. Sometimes, rather creative connections were explored, as well. Each commonality was then captured on a card. Once enough cards were collected, groups were able to construct. The challenge was to create a 10 inch tower of cards that could stand for at least 5 seconds. Tough!

While I don’t think these qualities were captured on cards today, it was clear that patience, perseverance, and problem solving are common characteristics of our learning community.

As is true of the building of any construction, card or otherwise, it is important to establish a firm foundation. Likewise, as we embark on our fourth grade journey together and seek to build real and refining relationships with one another, a firm foundation key.

Consider… how is finding commonalities helpful to our classroom learning community?





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