Every year, I have a student that has a little secret. They made it past first & second grade without learning to tell time or recognize and count coins! By the end of my third grade unit on money, I will be expecteded to teach my third graders to solve word problems such the following:
If Sally has $11.58 and her sister has $1.85 less. How much will they need to save before they can buy a toy that costs $50.00?
Considering that a few have little or no background information on money, we have a ton of learning to do in a few short weeks! Obviously, I need to begin the unit by differentiating instruction so that students who came to third grade with previously-taught skills in money, like recognizing coins and bills, can move on. Those who need to become familiar with our system of currency deserve that lesson…and one that will stick. In both small classrooms and the largest, kids are eager to work in flexible groups, but are typically aware of what the other group is doing. This year, I found a great web application that made the brighter math students wonder what they were missing!
In years past, I tried to encourage students new to counting money to get some coins out of their piggy back and bring to class to identify, classify and arrange. Half wondering if they would every really use change in adulthood, I rushed through this concept so that we could make it through the unit in time. This year, I looked for a way to teach them to count change, but add more advanced math concepts at the same time. That’s when I found MathDoodles. This web demo, obviously still in demo mode, was written by a teacher for kids who like math, but want to have fun. Teacher-designed apps are always the best….too bad they typically have the least amount of free time to write programmes.
After fiddling with MathDoodles and argueing with my husband over whether the directions referring to a “neighborhing number” referred to physical location or location on a number line, I took it to the IWB during math class for some testing.
While my math/logical learners stumbled through a few Singapore Math models (exampled above), I took my currency-illiterate students to the board and brought up “Connect Sums.” I set it to use coins instead of numbers or dice. I watched the students collaborate to understand the game rules and listened to them discuss the value of the coins. After fully understanding the goal of the game, they began to determine their strategy. As a group, they quickly gained understanding of currency value and began to develop the skill of counting on by various sums…5, 10, 25.
If your student(s) struggle to show understanding of math concepts learned 2 or 3 years previous, think before signing up for online programs/games that cycle through a database of math problems. While these programs can build foundational understanding of math, the built-in reward systems are there to keep students from burning out. If there are just a few concepts that your student needs to build a foundation upon, games like Math Doodles teach, build confidence, and develop higher-order thinking skills….and it’s FREE!
membership/cost? Demo is free. Carstens Studios may publish and charge a fee for a full-version at a later time.
navigation? Very precise. Excellent classroom tool for IWB.