Conservation Milestones: Conservation to 10

Aug 27, 2020

First grade is a big year – the transition from numeracy to number talks! 

girl using abacus in classroom

Beginning in PreK, we assess the kinesthetic level of our PreK students and begin to work on conservation to 5. In Kindergarten, we want to work with any students that need kinesthetic help and then continue to move through the whole progression of conservation to five. By first grade, we get to begin with conservation to 10!

Conservation to 10 is a lot like conservation to 5. We look to see if a child can see the configuration of 10 in different ways without recounting. It seems like kids have always counted one-to-one – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. If they have the one to one correspondence we looked at last week, they get it. But they can’t always rely on being able to count one-to-one. Instead, we really want to help them develop strategies that will build numeracy, which is where conservation comes into play.

Conservation to 10 – Level 1 – 10-frame

With conservation to 10, we want students to be able to see a 10-frame and say, “I see that there’s 5 on the top, and 3 on the bottom. So I know it’s 8.” Kids might also say, “I know that a full 10-frame has 10, and there are 2 empty, so that means it’s 8.” Reasoning is really, really important as students build conservation skills.

Conservation to 10 – Level 2 – Linear

However, you and I both know that our littles will eventually memorize the modality of the 10-frame – the boxes are always the same, they always see the same orientation of the rows and the counters. So, we need to mix it up! We want kids to be able to see structure with the 10 – it’s a foundational part of our number system, after all!

Maybe, instead of a 10-frame, we present 10 in a linear fashion that matches our Counting Buddy Jr. The beads are in a straight line, with 5 of one color and 5 of another. When we do this, it might throw kids off if they were used to the 10-frame patterns. So, what do they do? They go back to one-to-one counting.

We want kids to look at the 10-frame and immediately say that it’s eight, and then see it in a linear way on the counting buddy with five red and three blue, and immediately know that it’s eight, because it’s two less than 10. Being able to provide reasoning in the different situations is a great indicator that students are working towards mastering conservation to 10.

Conservation to 10 – Level 3 – Scatter

The third level of conservation to 10 is to present it in a scattered arrangement? Can they still identify the quantity without counting? We don’t use a traditional definition of scatter, where the pattern is truly random like if you had dropped a handful of beans on a table and counted them where they fell. Of course, in that situation, kids are going to end up one to one corresponding if the beans aren’t in any kind of clusters. 

In our scatters, students might see the structure of a 5 that looks like the five on a dice, and then two more. Do they immediately know it’s seven? Can they break the scatter into groups and really understand what it is showing? Can students see that 8 is decomposed into 5 and 3? Or 4 and 4? If they can, along with understanding the 10-frame and Counting Buddy in a linear fashion, students are laying the foundation for part-part-total kinds of problems in the future.

This is the beginning of letting kids play with quantities without the digit, which is so incredibly important and what this blog series is all about!  Take time to let kids develop this familiarity with quantities in different presentations. Don’t rush them into addition facts or memorizing concepts they don’t really quite understand. 

Using the ESGI Conservation to 10 Screener

In this progression, you want to make sure that you have screened students effectively to really understand where they are. One level in our ESGI screener looks at conservation to five in a linear fashion and then the 10 frame.  Those quantities are always depicted the same, meaning that when you look at it, they’re always organized so that, if you can understand the structure of the part-part-total, or a five group and some more, you’re going to be successful. 

In this tutorial video, I’ll show you how to use ESGI to screen your students for conservation to 10 with a 10-frame, but also with the linear modality mixed in. Obviously, it’s really important to only show the quantity to the students for a few seconds so they don’t have time to count one-to-one and you can accurately assess their conservation. 

When kids get really good at identifying quantities within a structure, the scatter arrangement will help you take conservation to 10 to a higher level. The ESGI screener for this level is also a very quick screener that flashes different quantities for students to identify. At this level, you might see a pattern with some students as to their understanding. For example, some students may, understand the scatters up to 6, but once it gets to 7, 8, 9, it becomes a little bit too complicated for them. The screener will identify those patterns for you, which is why I love using a screener like the one ESGI provides! 

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Reasoning in Conservation

Additionally, what we want to ask: do they have a reason for their answer? When we ask why they responded a certain way, does the student say, “I just thought in my brain and I’m super smart,” or are they able to verbalize why they know that. The more kids can explain to you how they know the answer, the more we can be assured that they have a deeper understanding of the concept. 

ESGI Bonus Features!

In addition to providing amazing screeners, ESGI has some other tools that you are going to love – that will make your life easier! After you complete a screener with the student, you can print out a parent report to help them know where their child is – if they have conservation to 10 in a 10-frame, and in a linear, or where they are with the scatter. 

I think my favorite thing might be the personalized flashcards that ESGI has the capability of printing based on the results of a screener. Just like that! Think about intervention. Think about home support! We can figure out where kids are and really target what they need to improve!

Supporting Conservation Progression

As we understand where our kids are with conservation, we want to be able to support that in the classroom in a consistent manner. We can do that by continuing our numeracy talks that we started with conservation to five (check out the first four progression cards in the Red Level Bundle!), starting at the beginning of the year in first grade, later in the year in Kindergarten, and even some PreK classrooms towards the very end of their year.

Our Yellow Level of Numeracy Talks builds on the Red Level, with Progression Cards 5, 6, 7, and 8. Each card has activities A, B, C, and D, and they come with classroom-ready presentations and videos that will help you implement those activities in your classroom! 

Of course, we have a sneak peek for you, our blog readers! Card #5 is yours to download so you can get an idea of how this all works. Watch the tutorial and use the presentation in your classroom with your students. If you love it (or if your students love it and demand more!), you can take on the whole series of the progression with the Yellow Level Bundle in our store. Or, if you’re an M3 Member, you get free access to the entire library of numeracy talks products! Members, check it out here!

Of course, we can’t forget our Deck ‘o Dots cards as a great support for this level of conservation! The yellow level of the cards corresponds to the yellow level of our conservation progression. The cards in the level are all 10-frames, but the green level of Deck o’ Dots cards has scatters (half are 0-5, the other half are 6-10) that you can use. Check out the Deck o’ Dots tutorial videos or the Deck o’ Dots games to see how you might implement some fun games into your classroom that will sneakily reinforce the conservation to 10 skills you want students to learn!

Don’t forget about parents as you’re working to build students’ conservation skills! I find getting a Deck o’ Dots into a parent’s hands can be powerful! You can have a math night using the Deck o’ Dots and talk about this concept of conservation. We want to help parents understand that we are focused less on the numerals but more on the numeracy, and what numeracy really is all about.

Next Week…

Conservation to 5, conservation to 10…can you guess what’s next? Conservation to 20! The last level of our numeracy talks, which is where we begin second grade, is up next week! Even if you don’t teach second grade, don’t worry – your students will get to this level too, so tune in next week for the final level! 

Have you started numeracy talks in your classroom? We would LOVE to hear how well they are going!

Take a second to brag on your student (or yourself!) in the comments or leave us a post on social media – Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

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