Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Money subtraction

Working with money and math has always been a fairly easy thing for me, just because it's so concrete, it makes sense in the real world, and everyone has had to deal with it in one way or another (unfortunately). I wanted to help my students be able to easily compute money math because it matters in the real world (as opposed to abstract uses of Calculus in the real world).

The class was working on word problems involving subtraction and money and I got to help with a worksheet the kids were working on. Somehow, a few extra students wanted to join the table, so I ended up with five youngsters to help.

Though the extra peer support was somewhat necessary, it got a little crowded at the table, and one of my students asked if he could move to a different place with his math buddy. It really showed initiative and independence which was great. They worked together and when I checked up on them, they said they had finished the front of the worksheet and needed some help on the back.

The example questions the class worked on together invovled multi-part questions such as: "David got $37 from his mother for his birthday and had saved up $48 from his allowance. He wants to buy a $100 video game, how much more money does he need to save?"

While the class could articulate that you add what he already has ($37 + $48 = $85) then subtract it from his goal ($100 - $85 = $15), the worksheet problem was more difficult for my students yesterday. I'm not sure if it was the math problem itself that was distracting them or if the extra students were, but two of my students weren't listening as intentently as I had hoped. I even asked my independent student to explain his reasoning to the others, but they weren't paying attention. I felt sorry for him because he explained it really well.

Dividing your attention between several students is sometimes harder than usual and yesterday was one of those times. I think I'll try to only work with my students next week to give them more personal attention and to keep distracting students out of the group.

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