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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Writing to Explain - Whole Numbers 4.NBT.A.1

Common Core State Standard 4.NBT.A.1 asks students to "recognize that in a multi-digit whole number, a digit in one place represents ten times what it represents in the place to its right." As discussed I discussed in an earlier blogpost, we can use Beyonce's song, "Irreplaceable," to teach this concept:

To the left
To the left

Mmmm to the left, to the left
Everything's ten times in the place to the left
In the ones place, that's single stuff
Yes, if you move it, baby, it's ten times enough...

But is this enough? No. Looking deeper into the CCSS, we find the Standards for Mathematical Practice:
  • MP1 - Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • MP2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  • MP3 - Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  • MP4 - Model with mathematics.
  • MP5 - Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • MP6 - Attend to precision.
  • MP7 - Look for and make use of structure.
  • MP8 - Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
Oh boy! These process standards made me realize that I need to provide my students with opportunities to solve challenging mathematical problems and explain their reasoning with words, pictures, structures, or models. For my students, a daily dose of writing to explain was in order. I began at the beginning, whole number numeration.

Before I presented this problem to my students, I had to do some deep thinking about how a thoughtful, appropriate answer might look. Here are two possibilities:

I want my students to think deeply about mathematics and write to explain every day. Beginning in November, our daily warm-up will be one "Explaining the Answer" problem. It's a win-win situation: they'll learn to reason and write, and I'll know that they will be able to conquer standardized tests!

:- )