Potato Maths

In early June I spent an hour with class 1 students planting seed potatoes. Students needed to estimate how many new potatoes would be generated when planting 9 seed potatoes in each large container. Students used stones to create groups to help them determine a total sum. Most students where limited to counting by 1s, 5s and 10s.


I underestimated the time needed to describe and break down the components of the learning activity. Having done all teaching to date with teens the overall class dynamic and my expectations where completely underestimated. The rapore the class teacher had with her class demonstrated how understanding you class members can make such a huge difference in the overall group dynamic.

I returned to harvest and count the potatoes in December 2011. The 4 months since the first class students had developed and enhanced their mathematical understanding with students being able to group and count in 2s and some in 4s.

Questions I asked Student responses
How do you remember numbers? I put it in my head
I use my fingers
it is a little more than my age
How many potatoes do you think we will harvest?
more than 9
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