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7th grade: What’s the Savings?

In this Number Talk, Debbie Borda and Antoinette Villarin engage their 7th grade students in mentally calculating the savings received by a student who paid $54 for an item that was discounted 40%. The students in the class first think their way through the problem, then share their strategies with a partner, then share strategies and answers with the class as a whole.

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Debbie Borda and Antoinette Villarin introduce the day’s number talk. The first step is thinking about “What’s the story? What’s happening in the problem? How is it the same as other problems we’ve been doing? How might it be a little bit different from what we’ve done before?” The problem is “Vinay bought her new iPod for 40% off the original price and paid $54.00. How much money did she save?” The students begin with quiet think time, identifying “how this is the same and how this is different from problems we’ve done before.” In circulating around the pair groups, Borda asks “how is this different from one we did earlier in the week?” Borda transitions the students into solving the problem, first mentally, remembering that when the students have a solution strategy that they are ready to share with a partner, they indicate it to the teachers by showing a “thumbs-up.” The students turn and talk to their partner, sharing the solution and the strategy. One student shares that her strategy was to “guess and check” by 5s, starting with 80 and going up. Another shared that he preferred to find percents, saying “Multiplying decimals, I get really confused.” In whole group discussion, students share different ways that they approached the problem.

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