Watch Out for How Numbers are Shown in Ten Frame Apps

Ten Frames are amazing!  But how you fill a ten frame builds different reasoning for kids.  For instance here are four different ways to show the amount 7 using ten frames:

Builds 7's relationship to the Benchmarks of 5 & 10, my personal favorite!!!
Students can see 7's relationship to 10, but not to 5.  But, this format can be used to discuss doubles and doubles +1 along with even and odd
Showing 7 using two ten frames allows students to look at all the ways to decompose 7

Randomly placing the objects into a ten frame allows kids to develop their own grouping system and let them come up with the idea that it would be nice to use the built-in structure
So, how you represent numbers in ten frames builds different mathematical ideas...none are WRONG, but I do feel that some are more important than others.  I guess am having a hard time with the 'random placement' of objects in ten frames.  I don't see it building anything for kids except their own development of a personal grouping system instead of reliance upon using the structure of the ten frame...however, the power of using the ten frame is ITS STRUCTURE, so why place them randomly????  I believe it probably has a place later down the line of work with ten frames, but I am questioning even that??

This question has been plaguing me for a long time, mainly because of all the darn ten frame apps out there that place the objects randomly within the app.  What are your thoughts?  Does it bug you to see ten frames filled randomly or am I the only one?????


Ok, it didn't take long for this blog community and my Twitter friends to help me realize this is another case for why I call myself a RECOVERING Traditionalist.  Randomly placed Ten Frames have bugged me for years, but you guys were quick to let me know it was just the Traditionalist side of me that was bugged.  We should allow the kids to fill the frame whatever way they want instead of us dictating how they fill it...that way they make sense of the tool for themselves.  I am totally slapping my head this morning, because I just recently posted about how I hate when teachers tell students how to use Base 10 Blocks for subtraction and we need to just let the kids decide how to use them, and here I am saying the complete opposite for Ten Frames...just shoot me.  I want to give special thanks to Tracy Johnston Zager aka @TracyZager .  If you are on Twitter, go follow her...and if you aren't on Twitter, come join us!  I've learned so much in these few months that I have been active on Twitter.  The hard part is you can only type 140 characters.  I'd like to share with all of you what Tracy shared with me and my Twitter response to her, but it is separated into multiple messages due to the character limitations of Twitter:

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 7.24.39 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 7.24.53 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 7.25.05 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 7.25.30 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 7.25.48 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 7.26.09 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 7.26.22 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 8.04.29 AM

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 8.08.31 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 8.08.39 AM

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 7.22.26 AM

So, thank you for helping me realize that filling the frames sequentially has a purpose when subitizing after kids have had time to play with the tool and see the usefulness of the structure.  The structure is apparent to us adults, but we need to let kids play around and help them make sense for themselves.  Also, note the change to the caption on the random Ten used to say "forces kids..." but now reflects more of my Recovering viewpoint. :)

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