Let's face it, traditional math algorithms can be both efficient and effective when used correctly. But with all that carrying, borrowing, and bringing down, students (and many adults!) don't always know why they are doing what they are doing. We stop thinking about the numbers and their real life context as math is reduced to steps and formulas. That's why we begin math each day with "Number Talks." During our Number Talks, we demonstrate our flexibility and understanding of numbers as we solve equations. We use place value understanding and our knowledge of the associative, commutative, and distributive properties. We take numbers apart (or decompose) and put numbers together to create landmark of "friendly numbers." We share strategies, explain, defend and sometimes revise our thinking. Of course we still learn and use the traditional algorithms as well!
Pick the Perfect Problem
Here's how it works: First a student chooses our unit of the day (cupcakes and candy are quite popular!). Next Ms. Copland writes several problems on the board. Each student chooses at least one "right fit" problem and solves on their individual white board. Finally volunteers share solutions and explain their strategies. Take a look at our Number Talks in action: