Thursday, January 30, 2020

COUNT UP to 120 with a Flipped 120 Chart

Have you heard about flipped 120 charts? You might know them as bottom up 120 charts.  Either way, they're an alternative that K-2 teachers should know more about. This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase through this link, I will receive a small commission which will not add to the amount you pay.

If you've heard yourself say...

"Can you count up to 120?"

"Fill this cup up with more water."

"We've read more books this week! Our reading graph is going up!"

"My credit card balance is less this month! It's going down!" (well, I hope you've been able to say this one!)

... then you may have also noticed the mismatch between what we say and how we show it on a traditional 100/120 chart. The language that we use usually implies that adding more to something equates to going up.  But on a traditional 100 or 120 chart, it's actually just the opposite - we move down toward the bottom of the chart.

Kind of counterintutive, right? There's lots of potential for confusion for our young learners, particulary second language learners or those who sometimes struggle with math.

Maybe it's time to consider applying the words we use in a different way, to build number sense and higher levels of math understanding.

I've read that the structure of the traditional hundred chart format matches what we teach our students about directional behavior in reading and writing ... start at the top left, move to the right, then return sweep and repeat all down the page.  That makes sense. But is it essential that the same logic be applied in math? It might confuse some, but many students will pick up the flipped chart format quickly. And it might just help to untangle math confusions that some students have!

Believe me, I've been a great proponent of the traditional top-to-bottom 120 chart. When I first started using it in the nineties, I remember thinking, "Where has this been all of my teaching life??" In fact, my store has loads of 100 and 120 chart activities.

But a recent request from a customer got me doing some thinking about the bottom up format.  Here's what she said.

I was intrigued by this request, and went off to do some research.  Here are links to some of the most informative articles and posts that I found.

From the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
* An interesting point from that article: "The idea of a bottom-up chart is not new; it was originally suggested forty-two years ago in Arithmetic Teacher (the predecessor of Teaching Children Mathematics)." The article aso suggests a few activities to get you started.

An earlier piece by Graham Fletchy, one of the authors of the NCTM article.  Such an interesting article! I also liked the comments - don't miss the one from the teacher of ELL! And the little girl's comment about chocolate milk - there's a kiddo who gets it!

Are you ready to give the flipped 120 chart a try?  If you have a 100 chart pocket chart (which I truly believe is a must-have for K-1 classrooms!), here's something to try.

Take all of the cards out. Demonstrate how to begin "a new kind of chart" by putting cards 1-10 in the bottom row, then showing how to move up to a higher number" by completing through 25 together.  When your students start clamoring to tell you what number is next, leave the unfinished chart in a math center for them to complete. Then use your chart as a part of lessons to demonstrate how to add by moving up to a greater number and subtract by moving down to less. 

If you're already using a bottom up chart and are looking for some activities to give your students some extra practice, here's something you'll like from my TPT store. Here's what this bottom up 120 chart resource includes:  


Four bottom up 120 chart one page board games for adding and subtracting one
and ten, plus three engaging printable worksheets with answer keys

Your purchase also includes ...

* 12 missing number cards to use as a Read and Write the Room activity or for a math center. Recording page and answer key included.

Four Bottom Up 120 Chart puzzles, differentiated to emphasize patterns on the number chart. (see the picture at the top of this post)

"Where’s Spot?” game board and cards. For adding and subtracting one and ten. Use all the cards or just the ones you need, according to your students’ abilities.

* A pup and kitty themed 120 chart, for additional support as needed.

Would you like to try a sample from this pack?

Click here to get your free set!

I'd love to hear what you think about using a flipped 120 chart!
Happy Teaching!

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