My kids really impressed me today. We started talking about Place Value, reviewing what they should know from second grade -- Ones, Tens, and Hundreds. Usually, despite the fact that this is NOT new material, it's like teaching a brand new topic. Today, though, my kids showed me that they had it down cold.
And not just one class! BOTH classes went pretty similarly, and we sailed right through things. I started off by writing the number 979 on the board and asking somebody to read it. I then asked them to discuss with their partners whether or not the two 9's in the number meant the same thing.
I heard great discussions, and in both classes, kids told me that they were not the same because the first 9 was equal to 900 but the second 9 was merely 9. When I asked about the 7 in the middle, a good majority of the kids were able to not only tell me that it represented 7 Tens, but even that that equaled 70!! That's pretty major!!
I busted out the place value blocks, and the kids started modeling 2 and 3 digit numbers. For the most part, they did this with ease, and one great surprise was how well they worked with their partners and did not just play with the blocks (with one or two unsurprising exceptions).
But then I posed a tricky question. I asked them to model 63, which they were able to do easily. I then asked them to show me with the model how we could represent 63 - 5. I asked them to take away 5 cubes from their model.
Most of the kids had difficulty with this one. However, in my morning class, I heard one of my kids immediately launch into a PERFECT explanation to his partner of how they needed to "exchange" one of their ten sticks for ten ones cubes and then they would have 13 ones and they would be able to take away 5.
Color me incredibly impressed. After a few minutes had gone by, and it was obvious that the other kids were stumped, I had that kid come up to the overhead and share his explanation with the whole class.
In the afternoon group, nothing was quite as powerful, but I observed a few groups doing the right thing. When I asked them to explain, it took a little bit of coaxing and drawing it out of them, but they had the right idea.
Tomorrow, we introduce Thousands, and Thursday, we'll introduce Ten Thousands and Hundred Thousands. I can only hope things go as smoothly then!