Tuesday, October 13, 2015

10/13 The Distributive Property: not just a good idea


After last week I knew that I needed to start with a review of the problem that I handed out to do at home. The great news was 8 of the kids worked on it over the week! So far naked bribery with candy is working and we will keep going with the homework experiment. At this rate, I'll be bringing in M&M's in 2 weeks. In going over the problem, this was our first group white board exercise so I emphasized listening was important before anyone did any math. To get started I also asked the entire room what the formula for the area of a circle is. As I noticed last year that tends to be a bit shaky despite being covered once a year I believe starting in 3rd grade. I then had 3 kids volunteer to  show parts of the October problem of the month (including my shyest student) which was great. I decided to narrate what the kids were doing in a louder voice to make sure the whole room could hear.

We then transitioned to a warm-up with stations. I found this great equivalent fractions puzzle on twitter from NRICH:  Puzzle  which I pre-cut a few versions of. I also brought Game of 24 cards  for the first time. I then let the kids choose which station to go to and we played around for about 15 minutes.  Generally both activities kept everyone's attention. I may alter this structure next week and do a practice Math Olympiad first but in general I still believe games are really important at this age.


Finally for the main activity I wrote up my own distributive property worksheet last night with a progressive set of problems: http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2015/10/distributive-law-worksheet.html.   I think I did a bit better than my last attempt at worksheet creation and in general this was reasonably leveled for the kids. As I told the kids, at this stage in their math careers the distributive law is probably the most powerful tool they know.  Some general observations. There are varying degrees of emerging algebraic thinking among the room. This was great for an exercise to get kids comfortable gently manipulating variables. I should also definitely go back one step and review why a negative times a negative is a positive in one of the upcoming weeks. At any rate, this lays the foundation to talk about divisibility rules going forward.

Planning Ahead

At some point soon I need to have the kids try a practice Math Olympiad. I also want to do a pattern finding notice and wonder exercise with a group discussion and I still have a short talk about multiplying negatives to fit in.

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