# True or False Multiplication Equations

Today,  I was able to pop into a 3rd grade classroom and have some fun with a true or false equation routine! This routine has become one of my favorites, not only for the discussion during the activity, but more for the journals after the talk. I haven’t figured out quite how to use them with the students, but it gives me such great insight into their understandings that I would love to think about a way to have students reflect on them in a meaningful way.  I keep asking myself, what conjectures or generalizations could stem from this work?

I started with 4 x 3 = 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 to get students thinking about the meaning of multiplication and how we can solve for a product using repeated addition. I followed 6 x 4 = 8 + 8 + 4 to see how students talked about the 8’s on the right side. They could explain why it was false by either solving both sides or reasoning about the 8’s as two 4’s in some way.

My final problem was the one below, 8 x5 = 2 x 5 + 2 x 5 + 20. I chose this one because I wanted students to see an equation with multiplication on both sides. Up to this point, I structured them to be multiplication on one side and addition on the other.  There was a lot of solving both sides – I think because of the ease of using 5’s – but, as the discussion continued the students made some really interesting connections about why the numbers were changing in a particular way. I really focused on asking them, “Where do you see the 8 and 5 in your response?” to encourage them to think relationally about the two sides.

I ended the talk with 8 x 6 = and asked the students to go back to their journals and finish that equation to make it true.

Some students knew it was equal to 48 right away and started writing equations that were equal to 48. For this student I probably would ask about the relationship between each of the new equations and 8 x 6.

There are so many interesting things in the rest of them, that I am not sure what exactly to ask student to look at more deeply.

In all of them, I see…

• Commutative property
• Multiplication as groups of a certain number
• Distributive property
• Doubling and halving & Tripling and thirding

The student below shared this one with the class during the whole class discussion:

8 x 6 = 7 x 10 – 3 x 10 + 2 x 4

From her explanation, she could explain how both sides were 48, but when I asked her how it related to 8 x 6, her wheels started spinning. You can see she played all around her paper trying to make connections between the two. That is the type of thinking I want to engage all of the students in, but based on their own personal journal writing – but what is the right prompt? “Where is one side in the other?” or “How are they related?” <—that one feels like it will lead to a lot of “They are both 48” so I need a follow up.

I actually left the room thinking about how I would explain how they two sides were related – in particular looking for either 8 groups of 6 or 6 groups of 8 on the right side. I found it was easier for me to find six 8’s, but now want to go back and find eight 6’s for fun. I can see how this could be so fun for students as well, but there is a lot of things going on here so I wonder how to structure that activity for them? Would love thoughts/feedback in the comments!

# Number Talks Inspire Wonder

Often when I do a Number Talk, I have a journal prompt in mind that I may want the students to write about after the talk. I use these prompts more when I am doing a Number String around a specific idea or strategy, however today I had a different purpose in mind.

Today I was in a 4th grade class in which I was just posing one problem as a formative assessment to see the strategies students were most comfortable or confident using.

The problem was 14 x 25.

I purposefully chose 25 because I thought it was friendly number for them to do partial products as well as play around with some doubling and halving, if it arose. When collecting answers, I was excited to get a variety: 370,220, 350 and 300. The first student that shared did, what I would consider, the typical mistake when students first begin multiplying 2-digit by 2-digit. She multiplied 10 x 20 and 4 x 5 and added them together to get 220. Half of the class agreed with her, half did not. Next was a partial products in which the student asked me to write the 14 on top of the 25 so I anticipated the standard algorithm but he continued to say 4 x 25=100 and 10×25=250 and added them to get 350.

One student did double the 25 to 50 and halved the 14 to 7 and then skip counted by 50’s to arrive at 350, instead of the 300 she got the first time. I asked them what they thought that looked like in context and talked about baskets of apples. I would say some were getting it, others still confused, but that is ok for now. We moved on..

Here was the rest of the conversation:

I felt there were a lot more wonderings out there than there was a need for them to write to a specific prompt, so I asked them to journal about things they were wondering about or wanted to try out some more.

I popped in and grabbed a few journals before the end of the day. Most were not finished their thoughts, but they have more time set aside on Wednesday to revisit them since they had to move into other things once I left.

What interesting beginnings to some conjecturing!

# Writing in Math: After a Number String

Many people ask me when and how I use journals in math class. At those moments,  I always seem to have so many reasons that it is hard to pinpoint just one to focus on during the conversation. And even when I seem to find a coherent way of explaining when and how I use journals, I often forget the reasons that seem to happen naturally in the classroom. The other day I had one of those moments that I think Joan Countryman, author of Writing to Learn Mathematics, would classify as continuing the conversation.

During Number Talks or Number Strings it always seems to happen…one student has a way of solving the problem that, as he or she gets midway through the explanation, the rest of the class begins to disengage either because it is a long explanation or they are lost in what is being said mathematically. Journals help me continue that conversation with the student who is sharing. I attempt to clearly capture what is being said, but ask the student to tell me more in their journal because I am so interested to hear all of their thinking.

This particular string was in a 3rd grade class who has been working with multiplication. I wanted to see how they thought about changing one of the factors in a particular way. This was the string:

3 x 4

4 x 4

6 x 4

12 x 4

The majority of students shared strategies that involved either skip counting or using repeated addition of one of the factors. Some used previous problems (which was my goal) to help them with the new one, however there was one student who started using 5’s for the last two problem instead of either of the factors. He had a very clear way of explaining it, but I could tell many students were beginning to get lost in the explanation. I encouraged the students to ask him some clarifying questions, but that conversation began to stretch this number talk a bit too long time-wise. Not to mention, many had stopped listening at this point.

I was so curious to hear more about his strategy because to be honest, I was getting a bit lost in his explanation of 12 x 4 using 5’s. I told him I wanted to hear all of his thinking but we needed to finish up the number talk to get started with class. I asked him to explain to me what he as doing with 12 x 4 in his journal and I would be sure to check it out later! He went right to work and knocked out this beautifully clear explanation, not just for 12 x 4 but EACH of the problems!

The thing that I appreciated most was the opportunity if gave me to continue this conversation with him. I could feel he wasn’t done explaining his strategy during the talk and this also gave him the chance to think about how he could clearly communicate it to me in his writing. What a powerful thing for a student to be able to do! It was amazing to me he had done all of that decomposition, adjusting, and adding in his head!

So, if you asked me this week for a reason I have students write in math class, it is to continue the conversations that are not quite ready to end during our class time together.

# Multiplication: Does Order Really Matter?

• When students notice 4 x 3 is the same product as 3 x 4 and say, “The order doesn’t matter,” how do you answer that question?
• Is there a convention for writing 4 groups of 3 as 4 x 3?
• Is there a time, like when moving into division or fraction multiplication and division when the order does matter in solving or in thinking about the context?

Answers I have right now for these questions….

• Right now, since they are just learning multiplication, I ask them what they think and why.
• I think there is a bit of a convention in my mind because the picture changes. Three baskets with 2 apples in each is different than 2 baskets with 3 apples in each. Also, when reading the CCSS it seems that way.
• I am still thinking about division but it makes me think that this would be the difference between partitive and quotative division. I also think when students begin 4th fraction multiplication, they are relating it to what they know about whole number operations, so 4 x 1/2 is 4 groups of 1/2. This seems important.

The 3rd grade teachers and I have been having a lot of conversation about these ideas. The students have been doing a lot of dot images and some feel strongly that the two expressions mean the same thing because they can regroup the dots to match both expressions. Others think they are different because the picture changes. All of this seems great, but then students are taking this reasoning to story problems. For example, given a problem such as, There are 5 shelves with 6 pumpkins on each shelf. How many pumpkins are on the shelves? students will represent that as 5×6 or 6×5. Is that a problem for me, not really if they have a way to get the 30, but should it be? I am not sure.

I went into a 3rd grade classroom to try some stuff out. I told them I was going to tell them two stories and wanted them to draw a picture to represent the story (not an art class picture, a math picture) along with a multiplication equation that matched.

1st story: On a grocery store wall there are 5 shelves. There are 6 pumpkins on each shelf.

2nd story: On another wall there are 6 shelves with 5 pumpkins on each shelf.

I asked them if the stories were the same and we, as I anticipated, got into the conversation about 5×6 vs 6×5 and what it meant in terms of the story. They talked about 5 groups of 6, related the switching of factors to addition and then some talked about 6 rows of 5.

From this work, many interesting things emerged…

• Some students had different answers for the two problems. They obviously did not see the two expressions as the same because they struggled with 5 groups of 6 as they tried to count by 6’s and forgot a row.
• One student said they liked the second problem better because she could count by 5’s easier than by 6’s.

• Students skip counted by 5’s but added 6’s when finding the 5 groups of 6.
• One student noticed the difference between 5 and 6 and could relate that removing one shelf was just adding a pumpkin to each of the other rows.

• One student showed how he used what he knew about one to switch the factors to make it easier to solve.

But they keep asking Which one is right? and I tell them I don’t have an answer for them. I just keep asking them:

Is the picture the same when you hear the story?

After chatting with Michael Pershan yesterday, I am still in a weird place with my thinking on this and I think he and I are in semi-agreement on a few things (correct me if I am wrong Michael) …Yes, I think “groups of” is important to the context of a story. I want students to know they can find the answer to these types of problems by multiplying. I want students to be able to abstract the expression and change the order of the factors if they know it will make it easier to solve BUT what I cannot come to a clear decision on is…

If we should encourage (or want) students to represent a problem in a way that matches the context AND if the answer is yes, then is that way: a groups of b is a x b?

# What Is It About These Questions?

Today, I gave the 4th graders four questions to get a glimpse into how they think about multiplication and division before starting their multiplication and division unit. Michael Pershan had given the array question to his 4th graders last week and shared the work with me. As we chatted about next steps with his students, I became curious if the students think about multiplication differently depending on the type or setup of the problem.

Here were the questions:

After sorting 35 student responses I found the following:

• 17 students got the area question wrong but the two multiplication problems on the back correct. Not only correct, but with great strategies based on place value.
• 8 students got all of the problems correct, however the area was found in many ways, some not so efficient with lots of addition.
• 10 got more than two of them incorrect. Some were small calculation errors on the back.

So, what makes almost half of the students not get the area?

Here is the perfect example of what I saw on the majority of those 17 papers:

Then I did a Number String with them to hear how they shared their mental strategies. I wanted to get more insight into some of their thinking because a few students had used the algorithm on the back two problems.

They did great. They used the 10 and 20 to help them solve the problems and talked about adding and removing groups of one of the factors. I was surprised on the final problem of 7 x 18 that no one used the 7 x 20 but instead broke the 18 apart to find partial products.

This makes me think there is something about that rectangle that makes them not use the 10s to help them decompose for partial products. I would love others thoughts and ideas!

————————————————————————–

After reading the comments about area and perimeter, I wanted to throw another typical example of what I saw to see what others think of this (when I asked her she could easily explain partial products on the second and third problem)

Since the 3rd grade classes are about to begin their multiplication unit, the teachers and I wanted to hear how they talk about equal groups to get a sense of where they are in their thinking. What better way to do that than a dot image? I chose the first image because of the 3’s and “look” of 5’s and the second image because of the 2’s,3’s, and 6’s, all of which students can count by easily.

Image 1 went relatively the same in both classrooms and much like I anticipated. There were two things that stood out to me as a bit different between the class responses:

• There were more incorrect answers shared in the 1st class than the 2nd class.
• In the second class, multiplication came out during the discussion. The “4 groups of 7 and 4 x7 = 28” in the 1st class came out after both images were finished and one student said she knew some multiplication already. She asked to go back to the first image and gave me that.

1st Class

2nd Class

After the first image, I anticipated Image 2 would go much the same, however it was quite different.

1st Class

2nd Class

After the 1st image, I was really surprised at the difference in responses and I have to say it even felt really different. My assumption at this point is that in the 2nd Class one of the early responses was multiplication.

I am left wondering:

• Does that early multiplication response shut down other students who don’t know anything about multiplication yet? While I asked her to explain what she meant when she said 4 x 12, I wonder if that intimidated others?
• How could I have handled that response differently so others felt OK using skip counting or addition to count the dots?
• Can we anticipate that type of reaction from other students when someone starts the discussion with something that may be beyond where the majority of the class is in their thinking?
• Was this even the issue at all? Did the 2nd class just see so many more dots and wanted to avoid adding and skip counting?

The 2nd Class ended with a journal entry after a student remarked, “If we know it is 8 groups of 6, then it is also 6 groups of 8.”

I asked if 8 groups of 6 is the same as 6 groups of 8 and the class was split on their response, so they set off to their journals.

The yes’s went with multiplication expressions representing the same product and commutative property:

I loved this no because the picture changes:

I am not sure about this argument but I would love to talk to the student a bit more about the bottom part!

After that talk, I am excited to see what these guys do when they actually start their multiplication unit!

# 4th Grade Multiple Towers – Pt 2

Due to a schedule change today because of an assembly, Malorie and I did not get a chance to sit and plan together before teaching the lesson. Luckily, she is always so prepared and had read my thoughts on the blog I did yesterday about it so we went into the lesson with a common vision and then talked our way through the shortened class period with the students.

We started with choral counting by 3 and then 30. We chose to include 5 multiples in each row in hoping the students would see a pattern in the “friendly numbers” if they struggled to see patterns in other places. After the list was up, they took a few minutes to write  down any patterns they saw in their journals and we shared out. This was the count and then notices Malorie typed as they were sharing:

I could have stayed with these patterns all day long, but we decided to let students revisit these patterns over the course of this unit. There are some really great ones up there like adding the digits and that number is also a multiple of three and if you add any of the numbers up there, the answer will also be a multiple of 3. They made some predictions about numbers that would show up later in the list and talked about connections between the two lists. Multiplying by 10 and the zero “put on the end” was definitely the most popular noticing of the class period, which was a nice lead into our stacking of the boxes of oranges.

We explained the boxes of oranges held 30 oranges and asked them to estimate how many boxes (represented by the post-its) would be needed to stack up to Mya’s shoulder. Malorie and I quickly tried to figure out if we wanted to ask about number of boxes or number of oranges and decided to give them the option of either. It worked out beautifully because the majority of students told us boxes along with how many oranges it would be as well. As Malorie stacked the post-its, the students counted along. Some were counting post its while I heard others counting oranges. We stopped approximately halfway, took adjustments on their estimates and continued. We finished with 480 oranges, 30 boxes. As we were running out of time, we decided to end by asking if there were any equations they could think of to represent the oranges and boxes.

I was surprised to get division first…480 ÷ 30 = 16 and then 16 x 30 = 480.

This was unfortunately where we had to leave off because the classes were shortened and then next class was waiting at the door. So we met during her planning later that day to regroup and find our starting point for the next day.

Tomorrow we have decided to lead with a talk about the orange tower we built today. This is where we had a big discussion around what we want to really have students think about….the book seems to really focus on the multiplying by a multiple of 10, like what would be the 20th multiple, the 30th multiple, etc but we want to play around with the properties a bit more here.

So, we decided to ask students what equations or expressions they could use based on the tower to arrive at the 330 post it. We are thinking we may get some things like this:

30 x 11

(3 x 10) x 11

(3 x 11) x 10

(30 x 10) + 30

(30 x 10) + (1 x 30)

We want to set them equal to one another and ask how they could prove are the same answer. We are hoping to see the associative and distribute properties come out. We definitely could get some division too and that could make it really interesting!

We decided to go with this because Malorie says that she often sees students “putting one zero” on the end of any number when they multiply by any multiple of 10. For example, when multiplying 40 x 30, they will just get in the habit of putting one zero because they don’t see that 10 x10 happening. This is where being able to think about 40 x 3 x 10 is helpful for students.

Next, they will make their multiple towers based on these numbers we will assign to partners: 15, 16, 32, 28, 24, 48, 18, 36, 35, 70, 45, 14. Since Doubling/halving is coming up, we thought this could bring out some of those ideas. Then we will ask them to come up with expressions for any number they choose in their tower. We had planned for that to be in their journal, but I wonder if that is something they could hang up next to their tower for a notice/wonder walk around the room? Hmmm…have to ask Mal in the morning!

~Kristin

Follow Up…today we did a choral count 6 and then 60 and the pattern-finding was even better then yesterday. It was always amazing to me how students notice new things and then based on how we record. This time Malorie did four multiples in each row so in addition to finding new patterns, they also started comparing it back to what they noticed yesterday during the 3 and 30 count. Even though the 3 and 30 count was not up on the board anymore, they still remembered the patterns and numbers like they were right in front of them because they were so excited about them. So cool to see/hear.

Next, we looked back at the multiple of tower to 30 on the wall. I asked the students if they could find an equation with the answer of 330 (which was on the tower) using numbers on the tower and gave them time to jot some ideas in their journal.

As the students started to share, I realized it was a really Badly Worded Question. As they shared I was getting “ways to get 330” but not relating anything to the tower, which we were hoping would happen. We wanted to see the associative and distributive properties emerge, but were getting addition and subtraction equations.

So, as I got “420-90=330 and 270 + 60=330…” etc, I asked “How would would you show that action on the tower….and then they were on a roll. I didn’t want them to think what they had written was not valued so we asked them to share what they had originally written and we built on from there! There is SO much to work with here so I cannot wait to plan for some exciting algebraic work.

I had to plan with another teacher so I left as the students began working on their multiple towers. After they finished their own towers, we were going to ask them write equations for a number on their tower based on moves on their tower. I have to check back in with Malorie in the morning!

~Kristin

# Multiple Towers in 4th Grade

In the Making Number Talks Matter chapter on Division, one of the strategies described was “Make a Tower.”

This strategy immediately reminded me of the 4th grade lesson in Investigations called just that, Multiple Towers. To make the timing even better, I am planning and teaching that lesson with a 4th grade teacher this week. The goal of this lesson is not necessarily eliciting a division strategy, but there is so much possibility for so many things in this lesson. Because of that, however, I am struggling with how we can leave it open enough for the many ideas to emerge, but focused enough to have a purpose in our planning.

The structure of the lesson, as it is the book, looks roughly like this:

Students count around the classroom by 3’s to 72 and it is recorded on the board. They then count by 30’s to 720 and it is recorded on the other side of the board, so both lists are visible. Asking students what they notice and what relationships they see. We record these noticings and leave this because the investigation of multiplying by a multiple of 10 continues to emerge throughout the unit.

Next, as a class, we introduce multiple towers through a context of stacking boxes of 30 oranges. Using post-its on the wall, students place the post-its one above the other, labeling the amount of oranges as the tower grows until it reaches the shoulder height of one student.  We then ask if there is anything in the tower that would help us figure out how many oranges are there without counting each one? They estimate how many to the top of the student’s head, ask how many multiples are there, and record equations for it.

Choosing from the list below, students work with a partner to create their own multiple towers as tall as one of them on a strip of paper:

After creating their tower, they answer questions in their activity book about the number of multiples, how they could find the 20th multiple without counting, and writing equations for some pieces of their work. They will continue to reference these towers in the following lessons in which they multiply 2-digit numbers and discuss various strategies and representations for multiplication.

I love this lesson, but as always, I like to play around with different ideas when I am lesson planning and these are some things I cannot wait to chat with Malorie, the 4th grade teacher, about on Monday:

• Instead of a number talk do we open with the count around the classroom to save time for the multiple towers?
• How do we record the multiples? Will different recordings draw out different noticings?
• Do we start with estimation of how many cases of oranges will it be before we just start the tower? Could that draw out their use of multiplication combinations they know?
• Do narrow the list of starting numbers to choose from so there are some really great relationships that emerge, like one factor that is 1/2 of another so the towers have a relationship? or a factor that is 1/3? or do we let them choose their own off of that list within a range?
• Do we put the towers up, walk around and do a notice/wonder before they jump into the activity book pages?
• Do we want to end with a journal prompt? The answer is obviously yes, but what do we want it to be?
• How will this leave her for the next day’s lesson?

Feel free to chime in with thoughts/suggestions and I will post the plan we decide upon after our planning on Monday!

~Kristin

# The Beginning of Arrays in 3rd Grade

Today, I was lucky enough to be asked to teach a third grade math class because the teacher was going to be out. Since I have never taught the Arranging Chairs activity in third grade, I was excited when two of the other third grade teachers, Jen and Devon, wanted to plan with me yesterday. Before meeting I read up in Children’s Mathematics: CGICarpenter, Fennema, Franke, Levi, Empson to think more about this idea of equal groups, meets arrays, meets area model builds. Here is one piece I found that connects them in a very nice way.

We decided to change the Ten-Minute activity from a time activity to a dot image number talk. We thought since the students have been doing so many dot images involving equal groups, that it would be interesting to see how they thought about one image with a missing piece. We were curious if students would use any structure of an array to think about how many dots were in the picture. The board ended like this…

For the most part, students either added rows (so they were seeing the array structure) or looked at the symmetry of the picture. They had so many more strategies they wanted to share, but for times sake, I did a quick turn and talk so they could share their ideas with someone before they left the carpet. Because I heard a student talk about filling in the middle, I asked him to describe to the group what he and his partner talked about. He said, “You could fill in the missing dots and then do 4,8,12,16 minus 2.” I heard the word array thrown around so I asked them to tell what they knew about arrays. A few students built upon one another’s definition ending with something with rows and columns.

Next, we introduced the activity on the carpet right after the Number Talk. You have 12 chairs to arrange in straight rows for an audience to watch a class play. You want to arrange the chairs so that there will be the same number in every row with no chairs left over. How many arrangements can you make? They talked to a neighbor and I took one example, a 6×2, and constructed it on the board. We talked about what that would look like on the grid paper. The grid here felt like a very natural way to move students between arrays as equal groups to rectangular arrays. They went back to their table, with cubes, and worked on making as many arrangements as they could. We shared them as a group.

They talked about the commutativity in the rotation of the arrays. We discussed the fact that since we were talking about seating arrangements in this activity, we would consider them two different ways to arrange the seats. This is where I saw the arrays as such a beautiful way of visualizing commutativity in a much different way than they previously had discussed in rearranging number or groups and group sizes.

Next, each group was given a number to create as many arrays as they could, cut and paste them on a piece of construction paper. Choosing the numbers for each group was something we spent a lot of time in during our planning. We wanted to be sure that noticings around sets of numbers such as primes, composites, evens, odds, and squares would surface, as well as relationships between different sets of numbers, we tried to be really thoughtful around this. We came up with a first set of numbers and then decided on a second number to give that same group if they finished early. So, this list is first number/second number (although we knew not all would get to the second one).

11 / 27 – Prime number and then an odd that wasn’t prime

25 / 5 – Odd square number and then relationship to a multiple they did of that number.

16 / 8 – Even square number and then halving on dimension

9 / 18 – Odd composite and square and then double a dimension

24 / 12 – Even number and then half a dimension (we didn’t think they would get to this one because 24 has quite a few to cut out:)

18 / 36 – Even number to compare with another group and then double a factor (36 could also relate to other groups numbers in various ways)

15 / 30 – Odd composite and then double a factor. We didn’t think they would finish 30.

13 / 14 – Prime number and then how adding one more chair changes what you can make.

Extras for groups done both: 64, 72, 128. (No one got there)

Thanks to a lovely fire drill in the middle of class, some groups did not get to a second number or if they did, did not get to finish. This is the point where you realize how amazing it is to have more than 1 teachers in the room! Everyone could walk around and listen to their conversations while they worked. We heard everything from frustration/wonderings about prime numbers because they thought there had to be more than one (and the rotation) to excitement when they finally got a second number with more. Here a few of the (close to) final products:

On Monday they will hang them up and walk around to do a notice/wonder about all of the different numbers around the room, but we really wanted them to think about their work today before jumping into comparing others. I also really wanted to capture what they were frustrated by, liked about their number, were thinking about in the moment and were left wondering. So, I asked them to write about what they noticed and wondered about their work today. I expanded on the prompt a bit to avoid, “I notice I could make 4 arrays,” and I said, “You could tell me why you liked your number or didn’t, what you think made your number easy or hard, or what you realized as you were making them.”

There were some beautiful responses that I cannot wait for Andrea (their teacher) to hear on Monday because they were so excited to share!

A nice noticing that could lead to largest perimeter with the same area:

An informative noticing and wonder about commutativity to keep in mind when planning…

Wonderful comparison of why they feel evens are easier than odds, but also great wonderings about “Is that really all you can do?” with prime numbers and why?

I talked to this student and he was using the 12’s for 24 but had trouble articulating it in his journal.

Loved this one wanting a number in the hundreds because it would be more challenging and don’t miss the bottom piece about subtraction!

She was not as much of a fan of the square as I was when I walked up, she said it is, “just the same when we turn it” and I said, “That is an awesome thing!” (I meant her noticing, but I think she thought it was about the square:)

I will leave you with this one that struck me as “We always have more to learn.” I cannot wait to see her working with fractional dimensions in 5th grade!

I cannot wait for the gallery walk and noticings and wonderings from the entire group of numbers. I am also really excited to see this work move into rectangular arrays and seeing students’ strategies around multiplication evolve and how they take this work and form relationships between multiplication and division.

Great day in 3rd grade and I have to say, I think Jen, Devon and I planned really well for this one!

-Kristin

# 3rd Grade Multiplication Talking Points

This week I had the chance to work with a third grade teacher, Andrea! Her class is just about to begin their unit on multiplication and division so she wanted to do Talking Points to see what they knew, and were thinking about, in relation to these operations. During our planning we discussed the ways in which this Investigations unit engages students in these ideas, misconceptions students typically have, bounced around ideas, and played with the wording of the points. Being my first talking points activity with third graders, I was so excited to see how students engaged in the activity. I have found that even during Number Talks, the younger students are very eager to share their own ideas, but listening to others is difficult.

In looking for how students “saw” multiplication and thought about operation relationships, we designed these Talking Points..

Andrea introduced the activity and we did the first talking point as a practice round in which we stopped the groups after each of the rounds to point out the important aspects. We pointed out things like,”I liked how Bobby was unsure and explained why,” and “I liked how everyone was listening to Becky when she was talking,” and “I thought it was great proof when Lily drew something really quick to support her thoughts.” Then we let them go and walked around to listen as well!

During the Talking Point round, some things we found really interesting were:

• How difficult is for them to sit and listen to others without commenting. Not like it is not hard for use as adults though, right? 😉
• How much students struggled to say why they were unsure. Sometimes it was not knowing what the word division meant, yet they struggled to articulate what it was within that talking point that was confusing them. What a great thing for them to be able to think about!?
• How they related the dot images they had been doing in class to multiplication and division.
• How they thought about inverse operations. They said things like, “I don’t know what division is but if I can use subtraction with addition, I probably can use division with multiplication.

We had pulled two of the points that we wanted to discuss, whole group, afterwards, “I can show multiplication as a picture.” and “We can use multiplication problems to solve division problems.” We put them up and just asked them what their table had talking about. The conversation was amazing. Hearing how they thought about multiplication as groups of but 50 x 2 means “fifty two times” while 2 x 50 means “2 fifty times.” We also heard how someone at their table had changed the way they thought about something. And the division conversation was so great and for the students who were unsure because they did not know what division meant, it felt really organic to come out that way… from them, not us.

Of course, we followed with a journal write:) We gave them three choices to write about…

I was so impressed by the way they wrote about their thinking, by 5th grade, they will be amazing!!

The student above, during the Talking Points, said that he could show multiplication as a picture because “an equation IS a picture.” It was lovely to see him make the connection to a visual for an equation in his journal.

I wish the quality of this picture was so much better but her pencil was so light it was hard to see! She does a beautiful writing about how exactly someone at her table changed her mind with such an articulate way of talking about multiplication and division!

This student above explains perfectly why teaching is so difficult…”…sometimes we have facts about math, we all have a different schema. We were taught differently than other kids.” I am curious to hear more about her feeling about the end piece, “some kids know more then other kids.” Is that ok with her and she understands we all will get there just at different times?

These last two were two different ways in which students reflected on the dot images they have been doing in relation to multiplication!

What a great class period! I cannot wait to be back in this class to see how students are working with and talking about multiplication and division!

~Kristin