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Subtraction Progression and November Fact Books

Subtraction Progression and November Fact Books

One of our neighbor boys is in third grade, just like my daughter. I had heard that he was having a little trouble with math, and I knew that my daughter struggled with math too. I invited him over to work on my "Problem Solving Approach" subtraction worksheets with my daughter.

As you hopefully know, the idea behind the Problem Solving Approach is that kids construct their own math understanding with guidance from a facilitator. The big difference between this approach and typical American math lessons is that the students are doing the thinking, not the teacher. 

I set up my subtraction worksheets to start very simply - just one-digit numbers subtracted from one-digit numbers. We talked about what we knew about subtraction - they actually knew a lot! - then they started solving. The first few problems were so easy that they were able to focus on their strategies and build their confidence. 

When we got to the first problem with regrouping we again paused and talked about what we knew that could help us solve this problem. I say us, but the kids did work independently with feedback from me. As much as possible, I only asked questions and avoided making statements. 

In less than an hour the kids were able to solve regrouping problems consistently without help from me. They could also explain exactly what they were doing. 

The most impressive part of this experience was that both of these kids have high math anxiety. They worry that they won't understand, and it shuts them down. Neither kid shut down, and they worked for the equivalent of a math block in school. Both ended the session feeling confident and triumphant.

At this point they needed a little break - they are eight! So, they went and played for a while. After about five minutes, I told them I had set a timer for five minutes. When the five minutes were up they asked to dive into the multiplication and division fact books. 

My daughter had already started her November Fact Book for Multiplication and Division (available in my store), but it was a brand new concept to our neighbor. He picked up using the models to solve the problems so quickly! He was amazed at how easy it was. They were laughing and having fun working on multiplication and division. 

My daughter, the girl who says she isn't any good at math, was even explaining division to her friend. "It is so easy!" she said. 

We had finish up because we were out of time, and both kids were asking to come back and do more later. Ummmm... yes! 

I really wish there was a way to scale this so every kid could have the experience that these kids had today. It was magical.

The subtraction worksheets we used will be in my store November 10, 2016. I currently have a multiplication and elapsed time set already available. The content is different, but the idea is the same.

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