In a debrief with coach and colleague Erika Isomura, Mia Buljan notes that ambiguity of language can make this kind of mental math particularly challenging for learners: do they really understand, for example, the difference between three groups OF 36 and 36 composed of three groups?
3rd grade math - interpreting multiplication & division
Mia Buljan, Glassbrook Elementary School, Hayward Unified School District, Hayward, California
Debrief part 2
MIA BULJAN: Okay. So have you looked at the cookie dough one or do you want to look at a fifth grade multiplications and see?
ERIKA ISOMURA: Um, they are doing the cookie dough one at this moment in time.
MIA BULJAN: Nice! Right now, even as we speak? Awesome.
ERIKA ISOMURA: Mm-hmm. And I asked them to remember, you know, everything that we did all ties together so if you're not sure about something, think back to something we just did.
MIA BULJAN: Right. Connect. Yeah.
ERIKA ISOMURA: So hopefully it relates. We'll see. Um, but yeah, I would love to see how the fifth-grade stuff compares because they were very cute. They don't, you know, the whole thing I framed it as, "Oh, well, you know a lot of you had Ms. B in third grade ...
MIA BULJAN: Yeah.
ERIKA ISOMURA: ... “you're helping her out and."
MIA BULJAN: They, they like to be helpful.
ERIKA ISOMURA: Of course. They're very cute. But, um, it was still very informative to me, things that they were still having misconceptions about, that I assumed. They're fifth graders! Oh, yeah, they'll totally get this, and then it's like, oh, well, yeah, I think they have a lot of understanding but not necessarily in the same way that I thought they were understanding it.
MIA BULJAN: Yeah. Nice. So, for my kids, um, we did, um, we did...I said, they did the word problems. And that's totally their wheelhouse. You give them a word problem, they'll get out their math bags and their trays and they'll just go to town on that. Like, that's what they're really comfortable with but they're not as comfortable with is, um, attaching that to a number sentence. They can tell you in words, and pictures, exactly what they did and why and what their answer is but, like, writing that down as like four times five equals twenty, that’s sort of like their next step. So I'm going to have them, um ... they are doing a little presentation, their group is doing a little presentation about why they think that the, um, the card, the word card goes with it. Right? So it's like four groups of five. And then the next thing I'm going to do, in their group now I'm going to have, put up the cards for, um, the equations, and have them decide as a group which equation goes with the...words that they picked and then we'll try, then we'll try cookie dough but I'm not, I'm not holding my breath.