In the Classroom–Math in Action

When planning and teaching math, I often think to a quote from my professor at UCSD: “If the tasks are fragmented, rote exercises unrelated to their questions, children learn that mathematics consists of memorizing unconnected rules that are unnecessary to their lives.”  When I heard these words I was immediately brought back to my elementary school experience. Material was often taught out of a textbook, with very little hands on learning experiences, and a whole lot of memorization of step-by-step processes.  I love teaching math at MTS because of the program that we use.  Singapore Math allows students to gain a deep understanding of the content with a variety of resources to access that content.  To help explain how our students are able to build their math foundation with a conceptual understanding of the content, I want to share a lesson I taught our second grade students earlier this year.

Earlier this fall we had been working on addition with numbers in the thousands place value and we were beginning our first lesson on regrouping.  To engage, or hook, the students I began the lesson with using a short Brainpop video.  This resource provides detailed information both visually and orally on a variety of subjects. In this case, it was a video on addition with regrouping. Immediately following the video, I engaged the students in a conversation by asking them specific questions in order to assess their prior knowledge and allow them to share the information they already knew.

Next, I introduced a game called “race to 100.”  In this game students used base 10 blocks, a place value chart, and a 6-sided die.  Before playing the game, I modeled how to play, using a “self talk” strategy, sharing my inner dialogue aloud and talking through everything that I was doing.  This game allowed the students to work with manipulatives and physically show the process of regrouping when doing addition with the base 10 blocks.  After quickly modeling the game, students were then broken into partners and worked together to “race to 100.” 

The final part of this lesson integrated everything that we had been working on as the students showed the addition with regrouping algorithm on graph paper.  We worked together to set up the addition problem correctly, making sure to stack the two addends, to line them up in the correct place value, and to draw a line separating the addends from the sum including the addition symbol.  Once the problem was set up correctly, students were able to learn the step-by-step process of regrouping building on all of the skills they had learned throughout the lesson. 

This lesson is a great example of how math is taught in the primary level at MTS.  We focus on building a strong foundation of skills that help students gain a deep understanding of each concept while also learning the step-by-step process of solving the problem.  The connection between the concept and the algorithm, the focus of my professor’s sage words, is at the heart of how we teach.

Kevin Markovich
Math Teacher