This blog will connect Primary Gifted Program instructors for professional learning and problem-solving.
A child identified gifted in math might not mind opening a primary math book with only words and numbers lined up in perfect rows awaiting action. However, what fun to open a book like Zaccaro’s. Why? Zaccaro has obviously identified, and addressed different learning styles and plotted the lay-out of his book accordingly. Pages have an abundance of white; the illustrations are not crowded and child-friendly; the text varies in size and fonts and is clear and easily read; there is humor in the illustrations. The drawings become friends and cohorts as each child solves the problem. The math problems are engaging and the Einstein Level gives a child an extra psychological boost. Each chapter skill builds on another and the chapter headings are personal: Chapter 6’s Oh, No! I have to Change the Recipe!. The Table of Contents reads like a personalized journal. Extra bonus: answers in the back! As math goes, it is a fun tome.
Reasons why students who are gifted in math would like the author’s methods:• Real world application of math computation instead of mindless computation practice• Higher level thinking involved in solving problems• Hints for solving problems are subtle, easily understood, and formatted using engaging and entertaining characters• Presentation of math problems creates an avenue for individual interpretation of data and flexibility in arriving at the correct answer
NanetteG - You incorporated two outstanding suggestions into your answer:1. The use of monetary manipulatives for those who are tactile learners and for those who like to manipulate the concrete and have the “hands-on” experience before moving onto the abstract idea of what each coin/bill represents 2. The idea of using currencies from various countries, which would open up an avenue for students to pursue and design their own problems and activities based on diverse cultures, not only incorporating the value of each coin/bill, but also facts about the countries, products made and grown in that country, etc…
I think any child might enjoy these - for one thing they aren't boring and there aren't pages and pages of problems needing to be solved.I can see using these as a "warm up" once a week and I can also see bringing in coins, scales and anything else "real world" to make it more fun.There are some easy technology connections too - the calcualtor and the money exchange apps on on the iTouches are the first thing that come to mind. Problems and the answers could be posted on a blog. The "How Many Legs are There" chapter could inspire an Animoto or two. Needless to say, the cooking chapter could lead to some actual cooking. :-)Last year we had trouble following the PGP curriculum due to absences among our kids - it was a bad year for the flu. We never seemed to have everyone together long enough to finish any of the units. I like the thought of using these math problems as a basis for shorter projects.
I think kids will like this book for several reasons. The book is kid-friendly without talking down to them. There is a good balance between white space and words and pictures. The process is explained thoroughly, but doesn’t get bogged down in the details. And the problems are fun and motivating. I can imagine using this book as a springboard for other activities that are relevant to the kids. I think about the math that I’ve taught and was taught and it is nothing like this. Just the fact that is different will be a novelty for most of the kids. For example, Chapter 6 “I have to change the recipe” teaches how to manipulate fractions. I have seen kids struggle with this for years. But here it is all nice and neat! It has clear directions and pictures to go with them. And little Einstein assuring them that they can solve the problems if they just think about them a little (p. 53). Love it!
In response to NanetteG – I agree that Zaccaro did a great job in considering learning styles. I also like the way the book is laid out and the clear process explanation. I am excited to use this with manipulatives with my kids so that they make the concrete to abstract transition smoothly. It will be fun trying out new things and I’m sure I will learn as much as they do!
In response to Of Life, Education… - I, too, can see many technology applications to use with the chapters I’ve read so far. Not just the ipods, but also the activboards and even making animotos to have the kids teach each other how to do things. My group is only girls and they are very girly girls, so I am thinking of all the different things we can do with the recipe chapter. The possibilities are endless! I’m anxious to get started with them!
The consensus seems to be: according to FMoore, melscales, Of Life, Education…, etc., Zaccaro delivered a math tome everyone happily anticipates using. That is a huge plus!
My first impression of this book was that it was very well organized, and the pages and chapters just flowed one after another. Children would appreciate the uniformity of the grouped questions, always five per group on the same concept. Repeated practice is offered. It goes without saying that the illustrations are attractive and kid-friendly without being too cutesy and condescending. There is also the Einstein "hook." If they don't know who Einstein is, they would probably want to find out as soon as possible. Einstein has always held a lot of fascination for kids because of his quirkiness. Gifted children enjoy being challenged. Why not be challenged by Einstein? The use of animals is also appealing. And they are fun animals too. I especially took notice of the growing frog on page 7. The book combines a lot of real world style exercises along with the animal and fantasy stuff. What child, gifted or not, has not repeatedly asked, "how much does it cost?". All of the excellent graphics help the students look and learn as well as read and learn.
kHarrellI think any child, but specifically a GT student would like this book because of the unique format. The illustrations are fun. Having the "thought bubbles" with hints add a bit of creativity. I know that not seeing rows of "boring" math problems would be inticing for students.In response to Nannette - I agree that different learning styles are taken in to consideration. The table of contents does read like a "fun book", although when I first glanced at it - I was overwhelmed by the number of chapters.In response to many above, if we need to do math, and as most of my students are identified Math, this is definitely a great book to use as our jumping off point. My students (and myself) will enjoy sharing the problems. I think it will be a fun study for us.
M.Scales - it's possible to prepare quite a tasty meal armed only with a crockpot, a mircowave and an electric skillet - I've catered Dr. Seuss lunches for 10 using those 3 appliances. Just don't plug the electric skillet and the microwave into the same set of plugs. We have old and ancient wiring and I blew the fuses! My students don't get to cook at home and like anything having to do with food!
I think gifted students would like this author’s methods because the format is engaging and the problems are laid out in a way that it makes problem solving fun. The author manages to incorporate scenarios that would be appealing to both male and female students and he integrates a variety of high-interest subjects into the math problems (i.e. animal characteristics, cooking, fairy tales, sports, music, foreign currencies, etc.). The fact that a solution method is not prescribed allows the gifted student the freedom to apply their own problem-solving strategies. I think a gifted student would enjoy the way the author lays out the problems with graduated levels of difficulty so that each chapter has problems appropriate for a variety of competency levels.
In response to Of Life, Education … I like your ideas for technology applications. I can see a Blog being a great tool to allow students to post their problem solving strategies so they can compare them with the different techniques used other classmates. The ActivBoard would be a great place for students to model how they worked through their problem-solving thought process. Thanks for sharing about the money exchange apps on the iTouch – I’m going to have to add that one to my iTouches too!
The word CHALLENGE in the title is a hook. A Math gifted student looks for "THE" challenge. When I was teaching GT second grade students, they looked forward to the STORY PROBLEM of the day. They could READ it, search for the "magic" target words and then start to write the equations and illustrate, if needed, the thought process. Can you imagine a GT illustration of the monster finger problem? Can you imagine the DETAILS and the time one might take?Many of the students have that piggy bank, and learning money is important to them. Making change and also learning how to make the best deal. They probably have their eye on something and going to save every penny. Multiplication comes early in the book and addition gets boring when they see or hear of mutiplication. In this world, FAST is better!!!
This book dovetails very nicely with the other book being offered by the GT program - Strategies for Differentiating Instruction.
I think our PGP students will like how the author introduces a math "challenge" using a short story, where the character is a child who uses his or her brain to solve a problem. I think they will relate to that character. Also, the different levels will provide a sense of accomplishment.As others have mentioned, the cartoons and thought bubbles will also appeal to them -- sort of graphic novelish!
In response to Viking,I think students will love "the Einstein 'hook.'" as well. I love that the most difficult level of questions is called "Einstein."
In response to Of Life, Education ....I love the technology connections you made! I agree, our students will be inspired to do more with this book than we can even imagine.
Reasons why students identified as G/T in Mathematics would like the book...These real-world examples are perfect for the G/T student. I find that in working with gifted students, particularly those gifted in mathematics, that they crave something other than just "numbers on paper"... this book gives them just that, along with great challenge! Many of these exercises will actually be challenging for my G/T students, which is completely off the norm of what goes on in their classroom. I can't wait to share it with them!
I found that working with my PGP students last year they thrive on challenge. If they have something that takes them outside the box of their normal school routine, they are so excited. This book provides lots of questions and situations that causes them to think with depth and complexity. They are exploring patterns, details, and scenarios that they may never be able to confront in their regular content area math work. I love the "Einstein" levels because this puts a name to their ability to up the scale of thinking. Einstein is definitely someone who they can look to for thinking outside of the box.
My first reaction was "They will either love or hate this book because of its size." But I lean towards loving it because it is a "big book."Once they are past its size, I think they will love the layout. The font size, white space, pictures, and speech bubbles are all appealing.Finally, the repetition combined with confidence-building problems appear to be a formula for success. I agree with Viking and LBranon about the positive connection students have or will have Einstein. The author was clever, clever, clever to do this!