Multiplication and Division


It sure is fun when Math Methods course work is immediately applied to a classroom. This past two weeks in math we introduced unit 7 multiplication and division to our 5th graders. It was helpful to teach a lesson, go back to our methods class and design the unit, and then go back and teach some more.

It has been exciting to see all the ways in which students see the math problems. As we continue this unit I get to find fun ways to preview work for the next lesson.

Yesterday our worm up problem was: There are 123 students going o a field trip and I want them to be distributed evenly into four buses. How many students will be on each bus?

Students had about 3 minutes to work independently at their tables. Then they had a chance to discuss in the table groups. This was a very fun problem for students to solve because they wondered what to do with the other three students and wondered why the problem said evenly.

I went around the classroom and students said, “You can put them on top of the bus…,” “You don’t go on the field trip…,” “You can’t chop a student in half!” and “You can put one more in each bus.”(Part of the enthusiasm about the problem could have been because they are going on a field trip next week.) As the students solved the problem they wondered what to do with the remaining students. After a few more minutes of group work we started to share out different ways of solving the problem.

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“I don’t know if I am right but I am going to be confident! I don’t know if I am right but I am going to be confident! I think it might be the wrong answer, but I will share. I am going to be confident”.

These were the phrases that Jorge (pseudonym) said to himself over and over again while we did math today. He often says these words and I wonder if that is what makes the difference between the students that struggles and admit not knowing, than the ones that don’t understand and mask the inability to comprehend. I wonder how much of that kind of attitude is taught in school. I wonder how confident are we to admit mistakes and learn from them?

“Children can a…

“Children can and do construct their strategies, and when they are allowed to make sense of calculations in their own ways, they understand better. In the words of the mathematician Blaise Pascal, “We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others” (Fosnot, Dolk pg.102)

Loved this quote from Young Mathematicians At Work. I was reminded of a conversation we had earlier in the day, where we talked about students learning through their own exploration in science. It seems to be applicable also to math, exploring ideas on their own does not force information on to students. It encourages they to seek out new possibilities. Number sense now makes more sense than traditional algorithms.