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Everyday Math - a reason WHY...

My high school junior was appalled, which quickly changed to delight, and then, to my dismay, unbridled laughter, when he found my old report cards. I have since burned them. And this was only last year. Not kidding.


Math can be challenging to kids, easy peasy lemon squeezy , or somewhere inbetween. (Side note: Tina Dokken, 7th grade math teacher and Northfield Teacher of the Year, bans the word "easy" from her classroom. Woot. Woot.) Research supports that we teach kids problem solving skills and concepts in addition to rote algorithms.


Here's why. Kids today can enter a calculus problem into google search and a few seconds later, wa-LA the problem is solved WITH the work showing. Have you ever seen a calculus problem? They are huge! And long! And complex! And my worst nightmare! But to think that kids can simply use technology to solve a problem is amazing and scary. They MUST know the WHY behind the problem. And that's where Everyday Math comes in.


Most days I spend part of the afternoon in 5th grade at a guided math station supporting students with math boxes. Usually I know what I'm doing...really, I can handle 5th grade math! This day was different. Kids were multiplying fractions. I know how to multiply fractions. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. But on this day, I had to admit failure. There was this box thingy with shaded columns and rows. Math talk for a conceptual model of how to multiply fractions and WHY the product is smaller. Have you ever thought about that? When multiplying fractions, the answer is smaller?! Try explaining that one to kids. Everyday math does this. And takes it a step further. Fold paper, shade paper, find the product where the shading overlaps. I was so amazed that I taught my family that night at dinner. I got eye rolls (they are all math heads, thank goodness, and have the conceptual model built into their brains). Family differences aside, I think it's an amazing way to demonstrate the "WHY?" in math. Nothing is more rewarding than witnessing these "a-ha moments" with kids. That's WHY we do what we do!


And if you want to see this conceptual model in real life, come on down to the RtI office. What's your WHY?

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