I recently taught multiplication to my 2nd graders. We spent time really understanding the foundation of multiplication and the why and how it works. We learned multiple strategies and were finally to the last strategy – skip counting. Now, I know most kids have been skip counting for a long time and are able to easily skip count by 2s, 5s, and 10s. But, skip counting by 6s, 8s, 9s, etc. are more tricky. I wanted them to really understand why skip counting is a multiplication strategy as opposed to just memorizing the skip counting pattern.

So….CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction) which you hear me mention a lot came to the rescue. I love using Number Talks as a way to get my kids thinking about strategies, but this time Choral Counting fit the goal better. In choral counting, students are counting by a certain number, fraction, decimal, etc. Since we were skip counting for multiplication I had them skip count by 8s. We slowly counted and I wrote down the numbers as they counted. We went slowly so even my kiddos that need to count up on their fingers were able to participate. We went quite far….see below….

Then, I gave them think time and asked them to make observations about what they noticed with what we skip counted. After independent think time, I had them share their observations with their partners. The room was buzzing with noise, but it was amazing because they were all excited to share their connections.  Then, I had students share out their observations with the class.  Engagement was high and I had lots of students wanting to share out.  Even one of my kiddos who has struggled in math was dying to share her answer – she was raising her hand and shaking it around to the point where I thought it would fall off.

As they shared their observations, I documented it using different color makers. (See picture below). First, students noticed how each time we moved horizontally we were adding by 8.  Another student noticed that vertically we were adding 40 each time.  Then we talked about how if you add 8 two times – that would be 16. If you add 8 three times that would be 24 and moved into how it was like multiplication.  This worked really well because they made the connection that skip counting isn’t just memorization it actually goes along with the multiplication fact.  One 8 would be 8, two 8’s would be 16 and they actually understood how it’s all connected.

I highly recommend choral counting for teaching and practicing many different math skills. I’ve also seen it used for counting fractions, decimals, money, and elapsed time.

Have you ever used choral counting before? Comment below….

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