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Math - Elementary
by Gail Englert

A response to the question:

Any suggestions to review subtraction and multiplication facts and to practice strategies for solving real life math problems?

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I am planning a refresher one week math workshop for third graders who are going to fourth grade. The workshop is being held during the last week of July. I have done this for several years with good results, but I want to try a different approach this year. My major goals are to review subtraction and multiplication facts and to practice strategies for solving real life math problems. Each class meets for only one hour. The eight students are of average or slightly above average ability. I would like for the children to be enthusiastic about what we do. Any suggestions?

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Perhaps it would seem less like "practicing math facts" if you did it with a twist... For example, what about giving students a set of digits, and then challenging them to find the smallest difference, or the largest difference, using each of the digits. So, if you gave them 1,3,5,7 and 8, they would have to find the two amounts that would give them the greatest difference, when one was subtracted from the other.

That could lead to an interesting exploration of how place value affects the differences. If you limit the numbers of digits it will change the possible answers. If you said, for example, that students had to use a 2 digit and a three digit number, that would be a different problem than if you let them use any size numbers they wanted.

As for multiplication facts, I like to give my students an amount, and have them come up with the facts that would give them that amount, rather than calling out facts, and letting them write the products.

You might also have them explore the multiplication facts through building rectangular arrays. Use square tiles, and give everyone a certain amount, say, 12. Let them find all the rectangles they can, using these tiles (filling in the rectangle completely, not just completing the edge). Then cut the rectangles they arranged out of graph paper, and let students look for interesting observations about the set of rectangles. They will notice (sometimes , with your gentle guiding) that even though each rectangle has an area of 12 square units, they have different perimeters, and that if you take some data on the side and the base of each rectangle, the two amounts are factors of 12.

If you have explorer plus calculators, you can teach students to generate random numbers, and then make it into a game where pairs of students work together, each generating a random number, and then using the two digits to find a product. You could have three students do the same thing, and then work together to find the largest product using two of the numbers. (We know obviously that the two largest numbers will be the ones to use, but third graders, even above average ones, need to discover this themselves to really "learn" it). Hope this gives you a start on your plans.

-Gail, for the T2T service

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