Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The worst math lesson...

I don't know about you, but sometimes the math lesson materials and manipulatives list can look extremely overwhelming.  I immediately got my teacher anxiety when I saw that each pair of students were going to need 50 unifix cubes.  That's about 450 unifix cubes just to complete the Front Page! Our objective was to take a whole number ( like 43) and use that number as the sum in addition problems ( 40 + 3= 43,   30+13=43,   20+ 23=43    10+33= 43    0+43=43).  The curriculum wanted the students to start by building with unifx cubes- 4 groups of tens and 3 ones.  After the students would create their 4 groups of tens and 3 ones, they would take one of the groups of tens and put it in the ones and so on.

Sound confusing? Yep, so were the kiddos! 

We suffered through the lesson with only two kids in tears.  I had unifix cubes everywhere.  And I had comments like "I'm missing a unifx cube, check the floor!" I was glad it was over.  

So the next day, as I thought about how I was going to reteach this, I remembered an app called Base Ten Blocks Math.  The app has a workspace with a tens and ones with a place value mat. And the unifix cubes were
already in groups of tens and ones! AHA! My life already felt better because I knew I could trust the technology part to engage and help them understand! 

We sat around in a circle with our iPads in front of us.  I started with the number 45.  The first step- build 4 groups of 10s and 5 ones.   This step took us 13 minutes yesterday.  Today? less than 13 seconds.  All it took was a couple of taps on the iPads.  And if a student put too many in the wrong place, all it took was to hit the X, and it was gone.  

From there, we took off.  The kids totally got it.  It was the moment that I realized that technology is powerful.  My kids rocked it! 
After my kids and I worked together on one problem, I let them go on their own.  I created QR codes with a number that they needed to work on.  They worked with partners to complete addition sentences using that number.  

The worst math lesson turned to the best math lesson I've ever taught!