Friday, March 2, 2012

Marvelous Math Play Date

From - jhnri4
Everyone who regularly reads my blog knows I love to play math with kids. This week I had an amazing math play date with a second grade class. My hat is off to schools and teachers that are transforming the sage on the stage into a guide on the side. This practice is especially effective in math because students have the opportunity to solve problems in a way that makes sense to them. I was thrilled to observe what second graders can do when encouraged to figure it out for themselves.

The kids were writing, solving, and explaining their own multiplication problems involving teams of players, candles in holders, and spiders' legs. One girl said there were 9 spiders with 8 legs per spider, so there were 72 total legs. She explained that she knew that 10 eights equals 80, so she took 1 eight away, and that left 72. Yes!

A boy chose 51 teams of 5 players. He figured out there were 255 total players this way: 20 teams had 100 players, another 20 teams had 100 more players, 10 teams had 50 players, which left 1 team of 5 players. Wow!

Another boy explained his answer of 28 total candles in 4 candle holders with 7 candles in each by saying he knew that 2 sevens equals 14 and that would be half, so he added 14 and 14 and got 28. I love it!

I'm sure many classes are anxious for math time to end, but not this class. They chose to spend their milk break time explaining the problems they created and the solutions they discovered. I was having as much fun as they were.

Here's to putting away the mad minutes and letting kids amaze themselves and their teachers with what they can accomplish when given the opportunity to think.

Update - March 9, 2012

I had the pleasure of watching the same second grade class work their math magic all week. Here's one more example:
There are 23 bags with 14 balls in each, plus 7 extra balls. How many balls are there in all?
One student explained that ten bags had 140 balls and another ten had another 140 balls, so that was 280. Then he said he knew that three 14s were the same as six 7s, and that three 7s equals 21, so three bags had 42 balls. 280 + 42 + 7 extra = 329 balls. Marvelous thinking!

I wondered how the older students who grew up on more traditional math instruction would take to solving problems with more thinking/reasoning and less memorization of algorithms/strategies. I can report that they are doing just fine. I got to spend one math session with a sixth grade class while they worked out problems with partners. It was great fun to watch and listen as they thought and talked their way through the assignment. Active engagement at its best!

Go Spencer Tigers!

1 comment:

  1. I pondered what sort of old individuals whom spent my youth in some mathematics coaching would likely decide to try fixing difficulty with far more thinking/reasoning and much less memory of algorithms/strategies.
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