Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Somebody Better Train the Parents

It all sort of happened by accident. We were babysitting at the new house when suddenly I found myself helping a 4th grader with her homework. My three had been invited inside the neighbor's home, and inside was a 4th grader struggling away on the couch. She would not be allowed off of it until the homework was done, and scratched away a bit forlornly at the pages. It was Mathematics.

Hmm. 4th grade - what do they do in math? I thought back and wondered whether there would be long division. The girl noticed me, and something about me must have made her think 'teacher' because she looked over and said, 'Can you do math?' 

My three were watching Rio 2 (a Disney-ish kid's movie with lots of blue colored birds in the tropics), so I glanced over at the worksheets on the couch. There was a combination of standard division problems, and some 'story' problems (well, they don't really call them 'story' problems anymore. That is so old school). 

She was getting some of the division problems correct, but others not so much. I asked her what strategy she was being taught to use to solve for x. She didn't understand the question, but said she knew about 'arrays'. 

"What is an array?" I queried.

"We have to create an array on every problem we solve," she said. "We have to prove we understand why 36 divided by 9 is 4."

"Do you mean, show your work?" ('That had been all the rage when I was a teacher, and I understood it'). "Well, no - an array is a static display of the number 36 being divided up into 9 parts of 4 each, and so on." For each problem, she had scribbled out a kind of picture to display her understanding. 

It was all taking a very long time.

She didn't have her math facts memorized, so we worked on that a bit together. From what she said, nobody memorizes like that anymore. That is (also) so old school. But the more we drilled on the facts, the more fun she had. Before long she was rattling them off like an old pro! It almost felt like cheating. I hoped she wouldn't get in trouble.

But the girl was thankful. She could hardly believe her luck that a 'teacher' had mysteriously shown up at her door. As for me? I liked it! 

But it must be said that between the two experiences - the mathematics worksheets and the movie Rio 2, I'm pretty sure that the Rio-watchers had a lot more fun.

Hands down.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">toddwendy</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

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