Q&A #1672

Ideas for elementary math workshop

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From: Gail (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jun 18, 1999 at 21:49:11
Subject: Re: Ideas for math workshop

Perhaps it would seem less like "practicing math facts" if you did it with a
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 Teacher2Teacher service

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