## Tuesday, March 10, 2015

### Just try some operations: a problem solving phase?

Who: J1
Where: in bed
When: bedtime

Bedtime math discussions have become something of a treat for J1, available if everything else is done before bedtime. Tonight, we didn't quite meet that deadline, but I made an exception for some mitigating factors. Turns out it was a lucky night for this as the subject was ROBOTS!!! And there were some short videos!!!!! Here's the link so you can play along: bedtime robots.

The chats
This was in reference to the "little kids bonus" question:
J1: 10.  Wait, no... 9 seconds
J0: why did you originally say 10?
J1: Because you said "faster," so I knew it should take less time.
...

The second snippet was for the "big kids" main question:
J1: I guess I need to multiple 5 x 30
J0: Why?
J1: Hmm, should it be adding?
J0: Maybe you should draw a picture.
J1: <gets paper and pencil> Okay, how does the robot move? <looks at question> Zigzags and makes 5 turns . . .<draws a zigzag and counts 5 turns, looks at the question again>. Throws after the fifth turn <draws a little picture of an angry bird next to the fifth turn, then starts counting another zigzag path>....ten will be 2 throws.  So, the answer is 6.
J0: How did you get the answer?
J1: There are 3 groups of 10 in 30, so I need 2x 3.
J0: Why 2 x 3?
J1: Because there were two throws every ten turns.
....

Why do I remark on this?
I was really struck that his immediate reaction was to throw numbers from the question into an operations grinder and see what came out. Sure, I have seen this reported by a lot of other people, but this was the first time it seemed so apparent for our kids. I think this underlines the need for us to encourage them to first make sense of what is being presented, to draw pictures or diagrams, to use manipulatives, and to explain why.