We are still working on the “Ages and Timelines” investigation. We worked out the difference between the ages of Carlos and his family, etc. Next, it was time for everyone to calculate the difference between themselves and their family.
I expected, anticipated, that some would have a tricker time than others. Given the ages of their siblings, which are not always nice landmark numbers like 10 or 15, I knew some would struggle a bit. I also anticipated that because this part of the investigation is more for individuals some would struggle without a partner to talk through the work.
I was right.
But what I didn’t expect was the number of children who came with the answer. I said, “How old is your mom?” and they said, “She is 33, and she was 25 when I was born.” I didn’t expect so many children to then have trouble putting this together as a number line. I mean, if you know where to start (8) and where to end (33) and you know the number of jumps in-between (25) then making the number line should be easy, right?
So my next step feels like a backward step, but I have decided it is a sideways step. We need to go around this obstacle, learn a little bit more about number lines, and then move forward.
ALSO: I didn’t anticipate the halves. As in, “I am 9 and 1/2.” or “My brother is 14 and 1/2.”
I feel like this week, so far, 2 days in, has been all about being responsive to student understandings. In the example above, I felt I had two choices. One would have been to teach that child how to deal with the halves. We could have talked about using a decimal, or about using the fraction to figure out a more accurate answer. My other option, the one I chose for this child at this time, was to say, “We are going to forget about the halves for now.” He has a tentative grasp of this whole “finding the difference” concept. Letting him stick with the whole numbers will help him solidify. Talking to him about the decimals or fractions would muddy the water. He’s in grade 3, the curriculum doesn’t require us to talk about the decimals or adding/subtracting fractions.
For the next two days I am going to do a part of this unit that my colleague skipped with her class: creating a timeline. She felt it was confusing her class, but I feel like it will be useful to mine.
And at the end of the day, isn’t this responsive teaching what ditching the textbook is supposed to be about?