EL Support Lesson

What's the Value?

This lesson provides students with practice as they find the missing parts of a whole and justify their reasoning. Use alongside the What's That Number lesson or alone as a support lesson for students.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the What's That Number? lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the What's That Number? lesson plan.

Students will be able to find the missing part of a whole.


Students will be able to explain how to find the missing part of a whole with sequencing words using discussions and peer support.

(2 minutes)
  • Choose a number between 10 and 20. This number will represent the whole. Next, decide on part of the whole. Draw a picture to represent the part of the whole on the whiteboard (e.g. If your whole is nine, your part may be five. Draw five dots on the whiteboard). Above your visual representation, write the following:
    • I wish I had ____ (whole).
(5 minutes)
  • Explain to the students that today they will be exploring missing parts of a whole. Elaborate that a whole of something is the entire amount. Tell the students that a whole can be broken down into parts.
  • Provide a relevant example. For example, tell the students that sometimes we break a whole pizza into many slices to share with our friends. Other times, we may just break a candy bar in half, or into two parts. Explain to the students that today, they will be working with just two parts of a whole.
  • Refer to the sentence and visual written on the whiteboard. Say, "I wish I had ____ (whole)." Explain to the students that the dots represent small beads to make a necklace, and you wish you had the whole amount you chose because you want to make a necklace for a special person. Tell the students that you need their help figuring out how many more beads you need to complete your necklace.
  • Ask students to get out their math journals. Say, "I want you to look at how many beads I need and how many beads I have. Use words, phrases, and pictures to explain how you would figure out how many beads I need to get the whole amount of beads for my necklace."
  • Provide sentence frames for students to use, such as:
    • First, ____. Next, ____. Finally, ____.
    • ____ (part) and ____ (part) is ____ (whole).
  • Give students time to write down their ideas. After students look like they've finished their responses, provide a minute for them to think about what they will say to their partner to explain how they would solve the problem.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students get into groups of six or eight, with inner circles of three or four facing outer circles of three or four. Explain to the students that they are going to share their ideas about how to figure out the missing part with two partners.
  • Read through the speaking and listening goals on the Formative Assessment: Speaking and Listening worksheet. Use the worksheet to record student data as students are conversing with their partners.
  • Remind students that oral clarity and explaining reasoning are important. Model a few examples of these. Elaborate to the students that even if they have the right answer or they both agree on how to solve the problem, the goal of this activity is for the other person to truly understand the speaker’s ideas.
  • Project the Inquiry Math Discussion Cards worksheet on the whiteboard and read through the questions and linking comments. Remind students that when one partner is listening, he or she can ask clarifying questions. The other person then also shares and the listener also asks clarifying questions to draw more language and ideas out of quiet partners, if needed.
  • Instruct the first set of partners to discuss their ideas and justify their reasoning. When the first set of partners are finished, have them rotate and repeat the process again with a new partner.
  • Have students return to seats and write down their final explanations, using words, phrases, and drawings.
(10 minutes)
  • Put students into partnerships and pass out the What's Missing? worksheet to each pair. Project the worksheet on the whiteboard and read through the directions, clarifying any difficult words as needed. Pass out a copy of the Inquiry Math Discussion Cards for each partnership to use as they solve the problems.
  • Allow students to access the manipulatives throughout the lesson as needed.
  • Rotate around the classroom as students are completing their worksheets and support students as necessary. Continue filling out the Formative Assessment: Speaking and Listening worksheet as you observe students during group work.


  • Provide part of an initial draft for students to begin with that contains the language needed for an important idea.
  • Pair students with partners who speak the same home language (L1), if possible.
  • Allow students to refer to their math journals for support during partner discussions.
  • Provide a word bank of key terms and phrases for students to use in group and class discussions in students' home language (L1) and English.
  • Group students intentionally based on academic and language needs.


  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary, summarizing important information for the class.
  • Put students in mixed ability groups so they can offer explanations and provide feedback to beginning ELs when appropriate.
  • Observe students during guided practice and group work.
  • Write down your observations using the Formative Assessment: Speaking and Listening worksheet. Use observations to inform future lessons on missing parts of a whole.
(3 minutes)
  • Gather students back together and allow a few partnerships to come up to the front of the room to share out how they figured out the missing parts of the whole. Encourage students to use the sentence frame on the board to detail their process using sequencing words.
  • Explain to the students that thinking about the many combinations of parts that make up a whole will help them become even better mathematicians.

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