Math Curiosity

Image by:  Samana

Here’s a typical elementary multiplication math problem:

John has 5 buckets with 10 tomatoes in each bucket.  How many tomatoes does John have in all?

To be honest … there’s nothing really wrong with the problem, but there are different ways to teach multiplication.  To me, this type of problem, although it could happen outside of the classroom, seems extremely scripted.  I’ll tell you a quick story about one of my math lessons from last week.

Last week I was given the opportunity to teach second and third grade students multiplication.  I find that when students are able to explore their own curiosity regarding math, they are often more intrinsically motivated to learn.  I’ve attempted to create a classroom environment that promotes math curiosity.  After introducing students to the idea of multiplication, I showed the students the video below.

After watching the video, I posted a few follow up questions on the whiteboard.  The class had a thorough discussion foru about 15-20 minutes regarding the mistakes made by some of the actors in the video. Students where asked to answer the questions below in collaborative groups and eventually communicate their answers to the class.  Here are a few of the questions:

1.  What math vocabulary terms did you hear/watch in this video?

2.  Did you see any math mistakes?  If so, where?

3.  Could some of the mistakes be prevented?  if so, how?

4.  What was done correctly?

5.  How can you prove that your answer to a multiplication problem is correct?

6.  What can we learn from this video?

Overall, I thought this was a great supplement to a multiplication lesson at the elementary level.  Integrating technology and asking thought provoking questions gives students opportunities to follow their curiosity.