The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Fun with Math

After several days of reviewing multiplication concepts with my young charges, I administered a pre-test yesterday afternoon to see how well they would do. Some of the students did really well. Some did okay. Some didn’t do at all. This is fairly typical of any class anywhere in the world, but it gave me a decent snapshot of what I needed to review.

So this morning I decided to have some fun with the math. I didn’t even tell the students we were doing math. Instead, I asked, kind of out of the blue (which is something they are used to me doing), how many of them considered themselves good guessers. I think I had all of the hands in the class raised, except for maybe one or two. So then I said, “Okay, let’s see how good you are! I’m thinking of two numbers. Can you guess them? Okay, I’ll give you a couple of hints. The product of the two numbers is 24. The difference is 2. Who can guess the numbers?” The students thought it over for a couple of seconds, then I had a few hands raised. I waited. Then a few more hands. When I had about half the class, I called on a few students. The first student suggested 8 and 3. We checked: 8 times 3 does equal 24, but what is the difference? 5. Okay, not that. Something else, then. Someone suggested 12 and 2. We checked again. Yes on the first condition, no on the second. Finally, a student suggested 4 and 6. Check and check. “Good job! How about another one?”

We did this game for a while, with several variations. Then we did some multiplication problems. I told the students that they could use any strategy they wanted, and I picked a random problem multiplying a three-digit number by a one-digit number. One student had her numbers off, and I pointed out that she made an error by doing repeated addition rather than using her multiplication facts. This gave a great opening into why the students need to learn the basic facts and why they need to stop relying on repeated addition. I encouraged them to use one of the three strategies we worked on all week: the traditional method, the expanded notation method, or the lattice method. Then we tried a few more problems.

After everyone was revved up and in math-mode, I handed out the post-test. The students were confident, excited, and eager to do it. They used white boards instead of notebook paper to work out the problems, and they wore earmuffs so that they couldn’t hear anyone mumbling to him- or herself while solving the problems. It went really well!

In the afternoon, we reintroduced “Read, Write, Think!” to our schedule. Below is the blog entry that two students wrote:

We have had an awesome Friday, considering both that it is the end of the week and that it is a lovely outside day! Though we are having fun inside, it is hard not to look out the window. Today it is summer in winter and a lot of kids are saying that.  Being the first Friday since Winter brake, we all have gotten used to school. I bet that lots of kids are exited about coming back to school! Frankly, it is hard not to be a bit bored during Winter brake. Yay!

The writing is verbatim; no editorial changes this time. the “summer in winter” phrase was in response to the 55ºF temperatures outside in January! This is totally crazy weather for East Central Illinois! I am expecting a blizzard to hit right before the ISAT tests to make up for it. But I am happy to see that at least some of my students are genuinely happy to be back at school. As they wrote, “Yay!”



One response

  1. scott

    Very cool way of getting the students comfortable with multiplication.

    January 7, 2012 at 8:16 am

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