Last week, I assigned a homework over missing information that some of the kids did great on and some didn't get at all. The sort of question like "Sherri has 7 bookshelves. She wants to find the total number of books that she has. What information does she need to find the total number of books? (The answer being: what color her shirt is. Just kidding. She needs to know how many books are on each shelf.)
So I paired up the kids who had gotten all 3 questions right with the kids who had not and had them go over their answers and their reasoning. As they did this, I walked around and listened in.
I happened to overhear one boy asking the girl he was paired with, "So you probably didn't even read this problem, did you? You weren't paying attention, and that's why you got it wrong!" The girl replied, "Yes, I was paying attention," to which the boy responded, "Come on, you weren't, were you?
I had to ask the boy to be just a bit nicer in his "help."
Today, we were looking at word problems. I've been trying to help the kids decide what operation they should use by looking at the units. If the units are the same (ie, 10 bears and 5 more bears), they can add or subtract. If the units are different (ie, 10 bears and 5 cages), they should multiply or divide.
The problem I had tasked them with talked about M&Ms and Skittles and asked how many more M&Ms there were than Skittles. They were discussing what to do in pairs. One little girl (NOT my brightest) was telling her partner that they should multiply or divide because M&Ms and Skittles are different things. The boy, instead of just telling her she was wrong was asking probing questions. "What are they?" he asked. "They are the units," she said. He answered, "But what ARE they? Are they nails and boxes? How are they different?"
He was (correctly) trying to get her to see that they were both types of candy and thus the same, but I had to walk away or risk laughing out loud at their conversation.
Finally, on our way out to the buses today, one of my little girls told me that when her dad got out of jail (!) they were going to move away from the United States. I figured she meant to Mexico, so I was being facetious when I asked, "You will move to Japan?" "No!" she answered. "The moon?" I asked. "No!" again. When I asked her where, she replied, "To Miami."
Geography just is not her strong suit.