Students are asked to take the words of the story and make a math picture. No question is asked yet. The story is: “Maria saved $24. She saved 3 times as much as Wayne.”

4th Grade Math - Number Operations: Multiplication & Division*Becca Sherman, Bayshore School District, Daly City, California*

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BECCA SHERMAN: Can you try and put that in a picture, to show, okay.

STUDENT: I think it’s 8.

BECCA SHERMAN: Okay. But there isn’t, so, how could you show a picture? You can put your numbers down too. What you’re thinking about.

BECCA SHERMAN: Do you have a picture, too? A math picture? Okay. See if you can add to your math picture. Okay. So as you’re drawing your pictures, look at your picture, and then you’re going to, you’re gonna try and make a complete picture of the story before you trade and look at your partner’s. Check yourself. Does your picture tell who the story’s about? Does your picture tell something about that money, somewhere? Does your picture, somehow, show that Maria saved $24? And does it show…So, if I looked at this and I were trying to guess, and I didn’t have the words in front of me? Would I know who the problem is about? No. Can you add something that would tell who the problem is about?

STUDENT: uh…

BECCA SHERMAN: See, where would you put some information about Maria or Wayne? What does that mean about Maria or Wayne’s money? Okay, can you add a picture to that? To your work? Okay.

STUDENT: 1, 2, 3.

BECCA SHERMAN: And how does that connect with “Maria saved $24.” Where’s Wayne in your picture?

STUDENT: Right here.

BECCA SHERMAN: Okay.

STUDENT: 24 times 3… 24 times 3 is…I forgot.

BECCA SHERMAN: Count by 4’s, maybe, to check.

STUDENT: 4, 8…12, equals 12.

BECCA SHERMAN: Okay. I see lots of, lots of different ideas, I would like you to check with your partner, first, and look at, there’s a, what you guys each drew, and see if you agree with your partner, and if it’s a complete story. So quiet, use your quiet voices, because everyone’s gonna be pairing up.

This is the sound of quiet engagement. All students seem to get started on something, even if not on a picture. Students struggle to draw a picture at first. I am very curious about the thinking that leads some students to their drawings: Eight groups of three in a bar model or drawn with dots… Pictures of 3x6 or 3x4 with what looks like dice. I can not yet tell how helpful their pictures are for them.