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Spring SAVY 2020: Day 3 – Secrets of the Moli Stone (1st/2nd)

Posted by on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 in Grade 1, Grade 2, SAVY.

The Secrets of the MoLi Stone have been revealed! Our last session did not disappoint! Students learned about the Chinese numeration system, solved the symbols on the MoLi Stone, and created their own number system!

Although many students had guessed the MoLi Stone had Chinese numbers on it, they found out they were correct Saturday morning. Participating in a student-led inquiry simulation, each pair of mathematicians analyzed patterns, groupings, and symbols of two stones with Chinese numbers to figure out the symbols of this system. These mathematicians had to apply generalizations from each of the number systems learned throughout the session in order to truly figure out how this culture wrote numbers. As a class, we concluded that the Chinese system uses groupings of ten and has the means to represent place value by using two digits to represent the value and place. It is an expanded notation system! Although they share a base and place value with our system, there are more symbols that are difficult to write, including a complex symbol for zero.

After the MoLi Stone was revealed, we reflected on the entire session with a gallery walk of each of the number systems. Students walked around reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of each system. This prepared students think about what they wanted to include or not include in their new system.

Creating a new number system was one of the most fun yet challenging activities we did this session.

  • “What do all numeration systems have in common?”
  • “Why do we have exactly 10 symbols?”
  • “How did the Chinese create symbols beyond the symbol for 10?”
  • “How are the Egyptian symbols related to one another?”

By asking these questions and thinking critically about the parts and rules of each system, one by one students developed their own number system. Many students loved working in base three and decided to create a system in another base. What really challenged students’ thinking was that it was not just about creating random symbols for each number, but recognizing there was a relationship between the symbol and the value. Students beamed with pride as they wrote their symbols on their own MoLi Stone for friends and parents to solve!

It was wonderful to meet many of the parents and family members on Saturday! Teaching a child is a team effort, and it is because of you and your dedication to their education that they are so successful! I hope to see everyone in a SAVY session this summer!

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