As a former classroom teacher, I have studied, taught, lived, and breathed reading connections: text to text, text to self, text to world, and at GCS we have added text to media. Reading material connects with other reading material, people and events. When we help students make connections, they comprehend and remember more about their reading.
For the last two weeks I”d been busy teaching Math Camp. My kids were struggling with area. We modeled area with manipulatives, we drew models on graph paper, we defined area in our own words, found the area of the ceiling, floor, and walls by counting the SQUARES that made up these pieces, and we found the area of our white board (I was cutting hundreds of little squares at 7:30 am). But we couldn’t transition this info to real world problems.
What was the hold up?
On the last day, I had the kids attack area from a different angle. I asked them to answer the following question:
What is 5 x 4?
Everyone wrote 20.
Nope, you told me the answer to 5 x 4, but what is 5 x 4?
After many awkward seconds, blank stares, a few other hacks at the answer 20, and complaints, a few kids began to draw models. Most kids made 5 groups of 4. But!! one group made arrays of 4 groups of 5.
I called the kids over to look at the arrays. After a a brief argument of whether the array was 4 groups of 5 or 5 groups of 4 (or both), we returned to our seats. I asked the kids to make a math to math connection.
Can you connect this array with anything else in math?
Connections slowly bubbled up: adding…repeated adding…multiplication…math facts…math problems. Finally, a 2000 watt light bulb went on and someone made the connection. AREA.
Arrays are like area and to find area we must multiply!
I. almost. cried.
We did our real world problem and then launched on a search for arrays in our school building. We found them everywhere. Carpets, ceilings, walls, stacks of lockers, banks of windows, and my personal fav ice cube trays. All of these arrays covered AREA.
Math is not a list of disjointed topics we teach in isolation. We must make connections. Math to math, math to self, math to world and yes, math to media connections.
Math is not about rules; it’s about relationships!
I think I might start a math revolution. Leave me a comment about math connections. I’d love to hear from you!
By Mary Kay Kane
all rights reserved. copyright 2017
Jo Boaler is my favorite math she-ro. Hang in and watch her video on math connections.