I have the luxury of having some family who, when they visit me, want to do some math. I know, who does that right? But these mathletes are excited about mathematizing, so how can I say no?
After reading Chapter 3 I decided that it was time to take some action. Time to experiment with the knowledge that I am acquiring through the reading. Now, I have to admit, it is difficult to find a provocation that will support all of my learners. They range in age from 7 to “29 and holding”.
So I started with the “Baker’s dilemma” (YMAW p 40). The questions I asked elicited many different strategies, which was great, as we had some real rich conversation comparing how people decided to approach each of the problems. More interesting to me was that I had one learner, who, no matter what the question seemed to be, they chose to skip count by two. It worked, but I wondered, what other strategies did this learner have in their toolbox? So I asked, could you try to solve this using a different strategy? (I know, not much of a rich question.) Well they did try a new strategy, they skip counted by fives! How difficult is that given the picture?
So I wondered, why no attempt to group items? And that leads me to my donut picture that I used for my post this week. When some constraints were built into the picture the learner skip counted by two’s for one tray and then fairly quickly said to me “Wow, those are big groups, I don’t know how to multiply 8 x 12”. I thought this was fantastic as tthis led to some conversations about groupings and how repeated addition is one way to model multiplication and that skip counting may not always be the most effective strategy to use. Awesome!
It is quite a learning journey that we are on as a family doing math together and there are always some a-ha moments. Sometimes with the kids, and sometimes with the adults. We ask lots of questions and share lots of strategies and wow, is it ever insightful for all of us. Let’s just say that Gramma has some pretty sharp mathematical thinking!