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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Let's hit the floor

Today, we began our unit on subtraction. It seems weird to even say that, as I (still) feel that 3rd graders should know how to subtract BEFORE entering 3rd grade. However, at my school, they often don't, and even when they know the basics, they don't regroup (borrow) correctly. Or in some cases, at all.

The kids often just invert things in their minds. If the ones place says 2-7, they turn it around and compute 7-2. If it says 0-4, well that's easy, it's 4. After all, 4-0 is 4.

But things went pretty well today, when I shared a rhyme with them that I heard at my session on Friday. This is a rhyme that I'm sure has been around forever, but for whatever reason, I had never heard it before. Last year, I had success with my own made-up, "Tiny Top vs Big Bottom," but that hasn't seemed to stick this year. However, the kids really liked the new rhyme.

If there's more on the top -- No need to stop.

If there's more on the floor -- Let's go next door -- and get ten more.

If the numbers are the same -- Then zero is the name.

The kids loved it when I said that. Now getting THEM to say it proved a bit challenging in some cases. When they would tell me I needed to regroup on a problem, and I asked why, some of them shouted, "The top is smaller!!" When I tried to get them to recite the rhyme to me, I heard a few mishmashes including, "If there's more on the bottom, let's go next door. And get another ten."

OK, so in the ELA block, we'll work on what makes a rhyme.

Still, once we got into it, things went pretty well. Hopefully, this will help the procedure stick for when we're not just focused on subtraction.


The Bus Driver said...

I agree about third graders knowing how to subtract before they get to third grade. When I was in grade school, we did addition first grade, subtraction (and addition review) second grade, by third grade we were doing multiplication and division (along with some generalized review of course) with 4th grade focusing on percentages and fractions.

In my current school district, the standards are much lower and yes 3rd graders are just now learning subtraction.. and 4th graders learning basic division with remainders.

CarrieV said...

I feel like some of them not only come without a good grip of subtraction, but never really get it. Somehow they can multiply before they can consistently subtract. Weird..
Like the song! Sad you have to turn into a singing kinder teacher to reteach an essential skill, but whatever it takes:)