I already blogged earlier today, (here) but I want to talk about another amazing math moment, so here I am again.
A few weeks ago when I went to a Cathy Fosnot learning session, someone new to her Number Strings called her work magic. Specifically, seeing how one problem helped solve the next problem and the next seemed like magic. He said something like, “Now that I see what your doing with your magic, I can figure out this problem.” She countered by explaining that it isn’t magic, it’s math!
Problems don’t exist in isolation. The connections we find in math help us solve problems. We can use familiar and known problems to solve unknown problems.
Because I am just like Cathy Fosnot, I had a similar moment this week.
We (me and the grade 3’s) started with 3+6 = 9. You can see where we went from there!
See that note on the side? After 56+43, One of the students said, “That’s (pointing to 3+6=9) spoiling this answer. It has 6+3 in it!” I got to say, in my best Cathy Fosnot impression, “I’m not spoiling it! That’s math! Math is all connected and knowing how to do one problem helps you with so many other problems!” And then we talked about a bunch of other answers, and made some connections and found out that math is actually kind of magical.
A few years ago, long story short, I figured out that my students were not making connections in math. They were thinking about each unit, each skill, each day in isolation. I started to explicitly talk about connections between big ideas, strategies, models, numbers, etc. I feel like it really pays off and helps to build understanding.