What I learned in grade 3

I had the opportunity to co  learn with a grade 3 class recently in the area of mathematics. With the 3s we played a simple math game called Name That Number. Games, Puzzles and Purposeful Practice is one component of our board’s Comprehensive Math Program. The purpose of this component is to support students in a number of ways including:

• developing conceptual understandings in mathematics
• developing skills, procedures, problem solving and thinking
• building confidence and a positive disposition towards mathematics.

In grade 3, students explore number sense and numeration in a wide variety of ways, including: representing and ordering numbers to 1000; representing money amounts to \$10; decomposing and composing three-digit numbers; investigating fractions of a set; counting by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, 25’s, and 100’s; adding and subtracting three-digit numbers in a variety of ways; relating one-digit multiplication, and division by one-digit divisors, to real-life situations

This is an easy game you can try at home as well. Here are the rules:

• A secret whole number (although you can use fractions and decimals if you are really daring) is selected between 1 and 99.
• Record the secret number on a sticky note.
• Put the sticky note on the back of the person who has to guess (me).
• As the guesser, you can ask any question that requires a yes or a no as the answer.

A side note on games: never underestimate the  power of a Family Game Night at home to help build math skills, turn taking skills and following procedures. My goal was to beat the apparent record of five questions asked. Initially, I simply guessed randomly. This did not yield very impressive results which the students got quite a giggle out of. So, then the teacher and I asked the students to reflect on what I had done and offer me feedback on my strategies. We also talked about mindset in math because when I hit five guesses, well, yes I was feeling a bit frustrated. Thankfully, the grade 3 team has been exploring mindset and perseverance. In no time, they were able to offer me suggestions to help move me past my fixed mindset that all hope was lost. This in turn, led us to explore what types of questions would be good at arriving at the answer in an efficient manner.

They came up with a number of excellent questions including:

• Is the number an even number?
• Is the number an odd number?
• Is the number in the ones column the same as the number in the tens column? (which allowed us to discuss what happens if it is single digit number)
• When the digits added together do they add up to 7?
• Is the number less than 60?

The students were also keen to share some strategies with me. They shared the number lines they had been using as well as hundreds charts they used in class. The latter resource opened up discussions around patterns they noticed in the hundreds chart. I left the class with trying the game on their own and see if they could come up with even more questions to help win the game even quicker.

Finally, the students were able to talk about the importance of Mental Math as a skill to use often in Math. You can see a video from Jo Boaler for more information about this particular skill set.
So, what did I learn?
As always, the curriculum is comprehensive, rich and requires a lot of planning by our educators to teach. In any given task, different expectations from the curriculum may get covered. Assessment of how the students are learning also takes time and effort to answer the essential questions: did the students learn what we planned for them to learn and…how do we know? The students drew on knowledge they had and resources they had used in class previously.Mindset is important and it was interesting to hear from students their own feelings around math and how they are learning to persevere through math questions.
At our October 28th P.A Day we also had a chance to dialogue as a staff around what our learners need in mathematics and some initial thinking about how we, as a staff, will learn this year about strategies to support their learning. We examined our school EQAO data as well as some sample questions from the assessment in our reflections. You too can see some of those questions via the EQAO website.
More to come this year for sure in our learning journey.
Mr. Collins