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Friday, May 13, 2011

Multiplication Mania!

We’ve been doing advanced multiplication (mostly 2-digit X 2-digit numbers) this week, and I’ve taught the kids two different ways to do it. The first is the way that I learned it when I was in school. I call it the “stair-step.” It’s the more traditional method where you multiply by the Ones place digit, then put a 0 or an X or NOTHING under the ones place for the answer with the Tens place digit. The second way is the Lattice, where you set up an array and multiply digits that meet up in each box.

The kids have taken to both methods pretty well. They seem to understand the strategies, and the only errors are coming from mistakes in multiplication facts – ie, 7X9 =53.

Because of the hustle and bustle to get our science projects done by today, this morning was really the first time that I got to introduce the lattice method to my classes. We had already done a problem using the stair-step method, and so we did a lattice together with the exact same problem. Once again, I got to see the night-and-day difference between my two classes.

When we arrived at the same answer using the lattice that we had gotten with the stair-step, my morning class yawned and said, “Do we have to do more problems like that?” Whereas my afternoon class gasped excitedly and said things like, “WOW! You’re awesome, Mr. Teacher!” and “You are the genius of math!”

On another note entirely, I had to give a behavior code to one of my better-behaved students this morning during our restroom break. The restroom helper (NOT one of my better-behaved students) came out and told me that E had said a bad word to another boy. When I asked the recipient what word E had said, the boy told me that E had shown him his middle finger.

Definitely a no-no, but a bad word? Come on. Anyway, I asked E why he had flipped the bird, and he told me, “My dad said that it’s not bad, and that it means God.”

That’s a new one.

I asked E if he went to church, and he said that he did. So I asked him if he often saw a lot of people at church raising up their middle fingers. Not so much.

Lastly, a friend and colleague posted a link on Facebook last night about House Bill 400 that I found interesting. Here’s what it said:

Mandate Relief” Bill Still Stalled: HB 400, the bill to gut class-size caps, authorize teacher pay cuts and unpaid furloughs, and undercut contract protections, was knocked off the House agenda again today because of a procedural error. That’s the third time this ill-conceived bill has been forced back to committee for correction of errors. But it still has a chance to come up again on Thursday—which is the last day that House bills are eligible for initial passage on the House floor. Keep your calls and letters against HB 400 coming! They are causing many House members to have second thoughts about this bill.“

In my opinion, I find it VERY ironic that a bill to cut funding for education has been delayed THREE times, because the people who wrote it have made errors that a better education might have helped them avoid.

EDIT: Since Blogger was down yesterday (Thursday), I couldn't actually post this then, and today my kids took a test on the 2 methods of "4th grade multiplication." OK, so maybe they didn't quite have the handle on it that I thought they had. The grades weren't so hot. Almost all of the mistakes, however, were due to basic multiplication factual errors or adding errors. Still, I think we will continue to practice this skill throughout the month of May.

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