Friday, December 12, 2014

How Close to 100?

My Toolbox
The plea for computational fluency is constant  on our campus and has boggled teachers nationally. The effectiveness of traditional approaches (loved by parents and some teachers) are fiercely debated and teachers are simply searching for adequate solutions. I have teachers that are reluctantly abandoning timed tests and flash cards and are desperately seeking alternatives to implement consistently.  This post is dedicated to a powerful tool we have just added to our toolbox.
 Sometimes you have to see something multiple times before you move to try it yourself. That was the case for this activity called How Close to 100? I was compelled to try this computational fluency activity after seeing variations shared a couple of times in my Professional Learning Network (PLN). On October 27th, Dan Meyer tweeted a recommendation, and on November 4th Ashley Minton tweeted a different variation that uses spinners (pictured below).

Twitter photo by Ashley Minton 

The dots were connected for me yesterday as this same robust activity appeared in Boaler's article that was shared by Common Core Math Resources on Facebook. I knew I just had to try it and share it with others!   How Close to 100? is one of several resources provided in the must-read article-  Fluency Without Fear: Research Evidence on the Best Ways to Learn Math Facts by Jo Boaler.  (The template can be easily downloaded from the YouCubed website). I highly recommend anyone concerned with computational fluency strategies to read this article and grab the provided resources.  The content is in alignment with another favorite article I've read from Linda Gojak called Fluency: Simply Fast and Accurate? I Think Not!

I introduced How Close to 100? in a 4th grade classroom today!  I inserted a slightly altered template into a sheet protector for each group, gathered enough dice and dry erase markers, and made additional copies for the students to use for practice at home.   (Sheet protectors and dry erase markers make repeated practice sustainable by reducing the amount of paper needed.)

The teacher and students enjoyed the activity tremendously! In fact, my son said, "You packed too much fun into this activity."  During the closure of the practice time, I asked the students what mathematics were used in the activity.  The students noted that the activity includes: writing equations, drawing arrays, applying multiplication strategies (skip counting, repeated addition, etc.), juggling the commutative property of multiplication, and accurate addition!  It also naturally infused several math practices!  This activity is multipurpose and the student discourse is productive!
Each player used a different color dry erase marker and shared a template to increase the opportunities for discourse.

The player with a total sum closest to 100 was the winner!


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