We were in the computer lab for the first time in a while. Provincial testing had monopolized all of our time, and the lab time, but now we were back. Everyone logged into Dreambox Learning, and got going on their activities. It’s amazing how a little break from something like this can renew interest!

As I walked around checking on everyone, I noticed that one of my grade 3 students was staring at 12×12 on his computer screen. I stopped and asked how he was going to solve it. He had a number line with jumps of 12, but counting by 12s is a really big deal. I’m not sure the number line was a strategy he even considered. He said to me, “Well, I know the answer has to be at least 100.” I asked how he knew this. “Well, because 10 x 10 is 100 and 12 is 10 + 2.”

I was amazed! We had not talked about splitting numbers to multiply. He transferred this skill from addition and subtraction all on his own! He want on to mutter “4…104…” Then he said, “I wish I had somewhere to write this down.”

I know that we aren’t supposed to help kids during Dreambox, but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I grabbed a spare piece of paper and scrounged around for a pencil. I drew a square, divided it into sections and wrote 10 and 2 along the top, and 10 and 2 along the side. I showed him where his 10 x 10 = 100 would go. Then I said, “You also said 2×2 = 4.” and showed him where that would go. There are two empty spaces. He stared. Then he said, “Would this be 20?” And I wrote 20. “Would this one also be 20?” I put in another 20.” I waited for a minute. He looked at me, and I could tell he needed me to show him more. I started to add them up, writing 100+20=20 on the paper, then he carried on mentally and wrote 144 in the box. Of course he had it right.

It was so excited to see him, on his own, try a familiar addition strategy to solve this problem! I got a sense of his number sense when he said, “I know it’s at least 100.”

So excited!