## Computation and a Growth Mindset

This past week my third grade class started to use multiplication and division strategies to solve world problems.  They’ve used arrays before and are now applying their understanding of multiplication and division.  That practical application can be a challenge for some and I feel like it’s partially because students aren’t yet fluent with their facts. In an effort to collect a bit more data on what particular facts students were struggling with I gave the class a short 17 question Kahoot! quiz. The quiz was related to multiplication and division facts.

In the past I’ve used Kahoot to review concepts and skills in a game-based format.  I’d estimate that the majority of Kahoot quizzes have a limited amount of time and points are scored.  This is fine and I’m not against using this format, but it didn’t work for my purpose.  I wanted students to take their time and diligently pick an answer.  So, each student grabbed an iPad and completed the quiz on Wednesday.  It took about five minutes or so and students reflected on how they thought they did on the quiz.  The class then reviewed multiplications strategies and connected how multiplication and division are connected.  The homework for that evening also reinforced some of the computation strategies that we’ve been practicing in class.

The next day students were given the same Kahoot quiz.  The question order was changed and students were allowed to take as much time as needed.  I printed out both the first and second quiz results for the students to see the difference between the scores.  Students glued both sheets in their math journal and were asked to respond to the journal prompt below.

“Was there a difference between your first and second scores?  If so, why do you think the results changed?”

Some of the responses are below.

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As you can see, some of the students are connecting the idea that improvement, effort, and growth is important.  I’d say this is a move in the right direction.  This year my school is emphasizing the idea of Dweck’s growth mindset.  Teachers are encouraged to use terms like persevere, not yet, and effort fairly frequently.  Students are hearing this type of speak and even being asked by administrators questions related to having a growth mindset.  By doing this activity I feel like students are starting to internalize that effective effort helps produce better results.  Instead of just talking about growth mindset and the benefits, students need to be able to make a meaningful connection between effort and achievement. I feel like preaching that effort alone will reap success isn’t the whole story.  I feel like students need to be able to document their journey and internalize the connections. I’m hoping to continue to use these types types of reflection activities throughout the year.

## Connecting Math Games and Computation

I feel like the curriculum stars are in alignment. Many of my classes are exploring computation in some capacity. This rarely happens because of the scope and sequence of the curriculum at the elementary level. Computation is an interesting concept to explore in the classroom. I find students come to class with a variety of computation knowledge, although some of the background relates to procedures or tricks used to compute numbers. Other students have a conceptual understanding of the computation, but might be lacking in the procedural department. Either way, I find that students need more practice to become fluent with computing numbers. They also need to be able to distinguish and apply rules to problems e.g. signed numbers, fractions and order of operations.

Developing computational fluency can be found in a variety of forms, but as of late I’m finding games to be the most beneficial. Computation timed tests drive me nuts. I couldn’t stand that as a student and feel a bit embarrassed when they are assigneds. An alternative to this can be found using math games. Games provide low-risk opportunities for students to engage in math conversation and practice computation skills. This past week I was able to use one of these games with students in second and fourth grade.

The game involves using dice and strategy and computation skills.  Students were given a game board and recording sheet. I pair the students using Michael‘s grouping spreadsheet and the students grab the sheet, dice and find a cozy place in the room. Students then roll the dice and fill in each line slot and match it with an answer on the game board. The game is over when all the slots have been filled. Click on the pictures to download a file of the game.

I first used the above game with second grade and then decided to use the same format with a fourth grade class.

Both games seem to serve their purpose.  Students are practicing their computation skills while using a variety of strategies to compute numbers. Students are also engaging in math conversations around computation and using vocabulary associated with computation.  In addition to the game sheet, some students decided to grab a whiteboard and complete their computation there before transferring it to the game sheet.  Hopefully these skills will develop into a deeper sense of computational fluency and cement as students progress through school.

## Dice and Math Computation

Since the beginning of the school year I’ve been searching for different ways to incorporate guided math in my classroom. Guided math has many benefits although organizing the groupings can bring a few challenges.  Guided math looks different depending on how the teacher implements the structure.  For example, one math group might be working with the teacher while two other groups are using math games or participating in problem based learning activities.  The groups will rotate according to a specific time schedule.  I’m finding that groups that are not with the teacher need specific instructions and expectations.

For the past few months I’ve been using dice games to emphasize number sense skills.  These dice games have peaked student interest and work well in increasing computation fluency.  I decided to collect multiple formative data pieces to validate whether the dice games were contributing to student success. By analyzing student data and observing over a period of time, I found that students were  becoming more fluent in adding, subtracting, and multiplying small/large numbers.

The games have worked for me, so I’m passing it along to others that might find it useful.  Needed materials and pdf files are below.

Materials

A variety of dice (6, 10, 20, 30, etc. dice)  Here are some examples:

Templates (in pdf form)

Roll to 150 (multiplication)