My first grade son was doing his homework this afternoon, and he was knocking out double-digit addition problems mentally and not even breaking a sweat. It was AMAZING to watch. I was so enthralled that I asked him to explain his process and I took dictation as he spoke:
“So I took the 40 and the 30 and I knew it was 70. Then I took the 7 and the 8 and I knew it was 15. Then I knew that 70 and 15 equaled 85.”
The “quick tens” were added after he calculated the answer.
“So I just took the 53 and 27 and added the 7 to the 3. I knew it equaled 60. I took the 2 and it was 20 and put it with the 60 and I knew it equaled 80.”
“Because I knew 8 and 8 made 16 and I knew 3 and 4 were 30 and 40 so that’s 70. So I added the 16 to the 70 and I knew it equaled 86.”
“So I knew 3 and 5 made 8 so I just took the 50 and 40 and knew it equaled 90. Then I took the 8 and the 90 and I knew it equaled 98.”
Props (and hugs) to his teacher!
I never was any good at math in school, but I loved puzzles–especially logic puzzles. I loved playing with numbers and words and pictures and using critical thinking skills (of course not realizing that’s what I was doing–I was a teenager after all) to discover the solutions.
I love that I’m now teaching an IMP class–Integrated Mathematics Program, in case you’re not familiar. Similar to CPM, but a little “wordier” and “puzzlier”, so to speak. My students are doing so much math, but not even realizing it! (Well, most of the time anyway.) There is so much writing involved with this curriculum, and I get super excited reading what my students write. (I used to be jealous of the English teachers at my school because of all the cool things they got to read. Obviously, not jealous of the all the grading they have to do…but I’ll cover my philosophy on grading in another post.)
Students flipping coins and finding triples
We are currently working on a probability unit which is centered around a unit problem–specifically, to find the best strategy for playing a specific game over the long run. You can read more about it (and the rest of the Year 1 curriculum) here. The students are convinced that they just get to play a bunch of dice games and flip a coin lots of times. Fine by me! We are currently a third of the way through the unit and already I can hear, see, and read that the theories they started the unit with are evolving. That’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
Students recording their coin flips
I’m having a great time teaching this unit…and I hope the students are too!