This blog will connect Primary Gifted Program instructors for professional learning and problem-solving.
Well, my “A-HA” moments spewed into the atmosphere like fireworks on the fourth of July as I read problem after problem, Chapters 1-9,………..AND COULD SOLVE (most of) THEM!!!! I am a very right-brained person, and math, unless presented in a real-life, or a practical situation, was like a monster under my bed! My reality check, after celebrating my success in working the majority of problems was…..this is primary math! Oh, well, I still congratulated myself! I was filled with trepidation and angst before even parting the covers of Primary Grade Math Challenge. I liked the lay-out of the book. The combination of very child-friendly (and humorous) illustrations, coupled with very every-day child centered problems and situations, lends itself to fun problem-solving exercises.Well, the first time my brain went blank was on page 9, Chapter Two, the Don’t Let It Break scenario. At the prospect of a tug-of-war, what child would stop and think those numbers through his head and come to the EINSTEIN conclusion? Only a GT math identified student! My response: attach that Einstein Award to his college resume, and off he goes to the Colorado School of Mines as a structural Engineer major..…..
A-Ha Moments:• Realization that 1st and 2nd graders are capable of working at this higher level of math computation• The possibility of integrating life lessons (p 20 – “it is always good to check prices [displayed in a store] on your own) and interesting facts (p. 80 - “Remember that insects have 6 legs, etc…) to make math more exciting and meaningful• The use of Einstein in a subtle, non-patronizing way to impart important hints to students for solving problems (p. 66 – hint reminds students that using a calculator may help them learn how to use multiplication to solve some of the problems) • Discovery that answers to all problems are in the back of the book (pp.281-311) Woo-hoo!
My AH-HA Moment : I never fully mastered how to do percent - not only did we move 3 times while I was in elementary school but I was also a early guinea pig of "new math" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_math). After reading chapter 9 and the bit about the percentage machine on pages 82 -89 I FINALLY GOT IT! Who knows, I may finally stop doubling the sales tax and rounding up when leaving a tip after a meal. I think the kids will cope with the fractions in the book just fine, esp. if they can use manipulatives. We could have lots of fun with the Balance It Chapter (chapter 5) with the balance scale and various sizes of gum drops or some other candies.
My big moment didn’t come with just one chapter. It’s more of the way this book is laid out. I really like the process that begins each chapter. I was not a math person after about the second grade, so seeing some of the processes has helped me learn why we do some of the things we do. Is that a little scary coming from someone who has been teaching for 20 years? I think so! I particularly like the chapter titled “balance it” and how it goes into fractions, pounds, ounces, and tons. It is explained in a very straightforward way that kids can get and use right away to solve the problems. Loved that one! I also like that the money chapters were divided. “How much does it cost” and “how much change should I get” should definitely be two different chapters! I’ve had many, many students get the money part, then struggle with making change. In this book is laid out clearly and in a very motivating way for students. I can see lots of fun with this!
In response to NanetteG – I loved the way this book is laid out, too! I agree that it is very user-friendly and that the younger kids will enjoy it. I am not a “math person” either, but this is very non-threatening interface. I wish my math teachers had had this book when I was in school!
In response to Of Life, Education… - I, too, can see lots of fun activities with the kids. I have a very small group of kids that works very well together. I know they will enjoy using the manipulatives to figure these things out. I am particularly looking forward to trying out the balance chapter with the scales and the fractions. I know we just got out of school, but I can’t wait to try these out!
I had many "aha" moments while skimming over the first nine chapters of this unique book. One of the first was the unusual set-up of the chapters. You usually don't think of a mathematics textbooks as being very creative in how the book is structured. This one is. Each chapter begins with some common sense explanations. This is followed by leveled exercises to get kids going in the concept for that chapter and understanding more step by step. Level 1 gives confidence, while competence is built in the succeeding levels. The whopper is at the end. After succeeding with the previous levels, most kids would probably look forward to tackling the Einstein level problems. Another unique feature is the pure kid-friendliness of the books. In chapter one, page five, Carl is saving for an iguana. I have never encountered a math problem where a child is saving for an iguana. Another unique feature is it often does not seem like a math book when you look at the chapter titles: How much does it cost? (chapter three). How much change will I get? (chapter four). Mathematics is used to figure balancing. Multiplication is called magical. I don't know about a lot of other people, but when I was in school we just worked the darn problems we were given. No one made it fun or practical! I love the way fractions were snuck into chapter five. Fractions were the HORROR of fifth grade for me. Here, you don't even see them coming.
Viking makes a great point about the higher level and more interesting/fun vocabulary such as the “magic” of multiplying and "iguana" making the book more appealing to students. In that same vein, since humor is often a characteristic of gifted students, the drawings of monsters with puppet monsters, Father Time stuck in a clock, a milk carton giving itself bunny ears, meatballs on top of spaghetti belting out a tune, and a centipede with a "you are here" sign on its last body part will be engaging and appreciated, also.
In response to Nanette (by the way, Viking is Shirley E.), I also had problems with math in school, but only algebra. All forms of algebra were a tremendous struggle for me, but anything spacial like geometry and trigonometry, I actually enjoyed! Go figure.
In response to Melscales, I also was drawn to the balance chapter. It seemed just too much fun taking teeter-totters and having them figure out weights.
kHarrellMy ah-ah moment was that I could even read, understand and solve the math problems. I have such a phobia with anything with numbers that I dreaded this entire study. A second ah-ah was that math could actually be somewhat fun and enjoyable. The way the problems are presented are not threatening and sometimes almost just like reading. I found that the answers somewhat came natually and not with too much struggle. (I really do have a BIG fear of numbers and math!)In response to FMoore, I too was surprised that math problems at this level would be appropriate for primary students, I have not tried to do too much math with the PGP students but I think my students would have fun working through these problems.In response to Viking, I agree that the way they arranged, titled and snuck in things made the book so much more fun than any other math book I have ever tried...I wish this had been around when we were trying to teach my second child early math.
Becky LeeI have really enjoyed working through this book in the evenings over the past few weeks. My A-HA moments really surround what I'm *not* currently doing for my PGP kids. I really thought that I did a good job of providing them some math enrichment, however, this book is really a wonderful jumping off point, and I see where it could be extremely useful. Chapters 1-9 offer several wonderful problems that are directly associated with varied units of study in both 1st and 2nd grades, so they will be a natural marriage at those times of the year, for sure. I am not a huge fan of math, as a general rule (it's way to black and white for me), but I really enjoyed working through the problems and thinking about being an "Einstein". I can totally see the kids getting into that!
In response to "Of Life"... Guusje.. I totally remember "New Math"... it was impossible and it made my parents nearly unable to work with me once I was in upper level math due to their instruction in "new math". Insanity.I agree that this book offers some great options to working with younger children and math skills in a fun and enjoyable and easy-to-understand manner.
In response to FMoore... I agree - yay that the answers are in the back of the book! I flipped there *first* wanting to know how big of a challenge this would be! Ha! I also think it's wonderful to imagine that our 6-8 year olds are able to rise to a challenge such as these activities. I will have some extremely high-energy, math-brained boys in PGP next year, and these are perfect activities for them.
After reading all the comments I have come to the conculsion that librarians all have math phobia. It's amazing that ole' Melville was able to invent the Dewey Decimal system. But then he was an odd sort of bird. P.S. Of Life is me - Guusje
My first "A-Ha" moment when reading through the first nine chapters is that this book contains very little in the way of actual "instruction". The beginning of each chapter gives a little background on the topic by walking through a problem modeling a problem-solver's thought process (i.e. chapt 8 page 73, "...but the more Emily thought about it, the more confused she got. Emily finally decided to draw a picture and see if that would help her think better.") The rest of the book is just a list of problems (ofcourse Einstein pops up periodically with little hints like, "Did you know there are 365 days in a year?" - page 67, and "Remember that there are 2000 pounds in a ton?" - page 44). Another "A-Ha" moment is how Zaccaro is able to present complex concepts like percentages in a way that a gifted primary learner can take them and run (i.e. describing how a "percent machine" works on pages 84-87). I think this could be a great tool for PGP math warm-up activities or early-finisher challenges.
In response to NanetteG, I too liked the layout of the book and believe that the comical illustrations and quirky scenarios (i.e. buying a “fiddle-playing ant” – page 31) will keep a gifted student engaged. It is also evident that Nanette has a second career awaiting her in the field of creative writing!!
The layout of the book seems very user friendly. The illustrations have that "graphic" look to them so will be a lure to kids. The increase of levels in the problems creates a meaningful challenge to the gifted PGP student. The character dialogue as in the "percent machines" gives a non-threatening feel to the seemingly complex computations for a primary student. I like the use of the word "Einstein" for the most complex problems. This will give the PGP student a goal to attain as they know this hero of science. I think it would be interesting as a teacher to help our students navigate the chapters and to help them soar in areas they can catch on to and then also to help them recognize their areas of need to stop and problem solve using tools to grasp onto foundational knowledge they already have. The book leads to adding depth and complexity to the knowledge they are taught from the basics of the subject to a much higher level of comprehension and process.
In response to FMoore, I like the idea of the integration of "life lessons" to make the math more meaningful also. The more connections you make to real life the greater the grasp and ownership the student will make of the knowledge presented. It is so important to make those brain web connections. I find this to be true for me in math as this subject is definitely a challenge for me.
In response to Millie H, I agree that the book makes a good point to take the children through the problem solving processes. It is important that they are able to recognize that there is a problem and begin to process the solution on their own. In chapter two, Ted recognizes the weight is too much for the rope and in chapter three Amy finds something bothering her about the candy and the amount for the price. Acknowledging the problem and looking for the steps for a solution is a tool for all children, and especially for the GT mind.
A-AH!!! and an OH NO!!! When I decided to do this book study, I thought it was Primary Math theory. When I received the book and saw it was ALL math problems, I had the second thoughts. But I had to practice what I preach/model at school when the child turns to you and says or gives you that "I can't" look. Try it.. You just might like it and always BELIEVE.Starting with patterns was the hook to get me to believe.Well percentages was like hitting a brick wall. But HEY!!! here are answers in the back... At least with an answer you can try to start working backwards to figure out how they got the answer. OK.. so that has only worked 90% of the time on Chapter 9. I am working this summer with some middle school Math teachers and they still have difficulty teaching this to MS students. I think we all have had flashbacks and Math was not our cup of tea.They organization of the book is great. Math is PATTERNS. To me, patterns are like puzzles. Find that missing piece and you are saying... Let me try one more/ find one more piece/answer.
Judy, let's see what we can do with this book and our PGPers come fall. After several years of doing "research" with them I'm ready for something new and different (Judy once again rolls her eyes).
With only one year of PGP experience and classroom experience being solely at the secondary level in business, the thought of being responsible for challenging PGP students in math makes me slightly queasy. I actually enjoy math, but I don't have any experience teaching it.So the a-ha moment was seeing the progression and realizing that it is doable, students will most likely enjoy it, and small successes could produce big outcomes.I like the layout, chapter progression, and real life application. But probably most of all, I am relieved to find answers in the back.
I have had a lot of experience teaching math. -- I have only had 1 year of PGP experience, but taught math for many years! I enjoyed reading the first 9 chapters of this book. As others have commented, I like the layout and application of math to life. I also like how there are different levels of math questions, which should make individualizing the lessons pretty easy.My A-ha moment is not about any specific chapter or kind of math problem. It is more a question that this has made me think of. Next year I'll have (as far as I know) one 1st grade PGP student, who does not speak English much at all -- no other PGP students. How will he understand the stories? Is there a Spanish version of this book? I do not speak Spanish. Just wondering.
In response to Head Squirrel,I think you make a great comment, which was sort of an "a-ha" for me: these exercises are a good "jumping off point," not an end in themselves.
In response to Guusje,I also see too much math phobia going on among librarians! We use math all the time, but just don't realize it.