One Hundred Hungry Ants
Over the summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the University of Illinois’ Chancellor’s Academy. I was a part of the math strand that was supervised by one of the Teacher Collaborators from the university’s Center for Education in Small Urban Communities. I had worked with this particular Teacher Collaborator over the previous year as I worked with the Literacy Across Content Areas inquiry group and had been looking forward to collaborating with him this year on some math instruction.
We exchanged a series of emails as the year began and made plans to do a collaborative introduction to multiplication this week. Today was the first day of this special project. We started off by giving students a quick pre-assessment in which we asked them to draw two pictures to represent the multiplicative express 3×5, then had them write a story using this expression and to rewrite the expression using repeated addition. The students provided a wide variety of illustrations and stories, including rectangular arrays, groups-of models, and multiplicative comparisons, which are all concepts they need to master for the Common Core State Standards (and our district’s math benchmarks).
After the pre-assessment, the Teacher Collaborator read the story One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes, which illustrates the different factors of 100 and how they can be used in rectangular arrays. He read the story through once just to allow the students to hear the entire story and enjoy the presentation and then he read it a second time and had them identify the factor pairs that were being used, like 1 and 100, 2 and 50, 4 and 25, 5 and 20, and 10 and 10. (We didn’t get into the commutative property of multiplication today, but we will touch on it later this week.)
The last part of our day’s collaboration was dividing the students into pairs and having them illustrate on chart paper the arrays as told in the story. I assigned each pair a multiplicative expression using the factors of 100 and had them draw a picture, such as two columns of fifty, and then write the expression with words (the numeric expression was already on the paper). With 27 students in my class, this gave us 12 pairs and 1 group of 3, so each fact was drawn by three or four pairs. The students did a great job working together with their partners and making their signs. The chart paper was the kind that had an adhesive strip along the top (imagine really big Post-It Notes!) so we were able to stick them to the walls around the classroom.
Tomorrow we will continue our exploration of multiplication. Our goal is for the students to develop a solid foundation of not just what multiplication is, but how it is expressed in words, symbols, and with manipulative models, as well as what is happening, mathematically, when we do multiplication. I am going to dedicate all of my blog posts this week to sharing what the boys and girls are doing in class. The culmination is going to involve making simple videos to demonstrate what they’ve learned, and I may share a few of them (no names or any identifying information will be included, of course). This is going to be a really fun unit!