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


After several weeks of school, my students finally made an observation that I had been waiting for all year: What we have been doing in math has been pretty easy. So far.

This has been an interesting observation for several reasons.

First, I had been hearing stories about the impact of last year’s large class sizes, particularly in terms of math instruction. (The third grade last year had over 30 students in each classroom.) Among many stories, I was told that the students hadn’t learned as much math as they might have if the classes had been smaller. Ironically, the third grade teachers shared that they actually taught more material last year than before. These worries have proven to be entirely unnecessary. In fact, my class seems to have a very strong grasp of the mathematical concepts we have been working on, as well as some concepts that I introduce as they come up, even though we don’t spend a lot of time on them.

For another, the way the math curriculum I am using this year is meant to be fast-paced but thorough. Instead of having one or two lessons that cover all of the basic multiplication facts, we have been focusing on different facts each day. Despite the fact that I have made it clear what we are doing, many of the students didn’t fully appreciate it until today. I’m not sure why it was today, but it was. They finally realised that what we have been doing in math has been easy, and they enjoyed telling me!

Of course, I had to make sure they understood that we have been reviewing third grade math, and we will be moving forward next week. Math has been easy so far, but it is about to get a lot harder. Despite this, I have no worries. I know that some of my students are going to have a hard time. It may take others a while before they fully catch on. But that isn’t a problem. I frequently tell my class about the time I was in 8th grade learning how to factor polynomials. It took me several weeks to figure out how to do it, even though all of my classmates got it right away. But I got it eventually because I kept trying and I stuck to it. I hope that my students will take the same advice.

I am glad that the students have found the math work thus far to be easy. I am glad to know that they have demonstrated a confidence in their knowledge of basic math facts related to multiplication. We will be wrapping up the review over the next couple of days, which means we should be moving into more complex multiplication, especially multi-digit multiplication, by next week!


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