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This topic contains 3 replies, and was last updated by Sydney 2 weeks, 2 days ago.

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I invite you to open a similar conversation with your students around words such as easy, hard, fast, slow, right, wrong, or around the question, What does it mean to be good at math? If you can, record the audio or video, and then transcribe or summarize it. What did you learn? Share here by commenting directly, or by sharing a link to your blog post so other readers can learn from your experience.
 This topic was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by tzager.

Christine NewellSo, yesterday I had a change to rec0rd my daughter (Coralie, 2nd grader) and her neighbor buddy (Livi, 4th grader) responding to the question, “What does it mean to be good at math?” It went like this…
Cora: “To be good at math, it means, to know how to add and subtract. That means put together two numbers and find out the answer… subtracting is taking the bigger number and take away the other number and then find out what it equals.”
Livi: “And I think it means, you have to know science to know math… science is basically just like math so you have to be good at math to know science and you have to know science to be good at math.”
Me: “So, what else do mathematicians do? I heard you say they’re good a math and they’re good at science.”
Livi: “Addition, subtraction, science, multiplication, and division.”
Cora: (turning to Livi) “I don’t know. What IS multiplication and division anyway?”
Livi: “Division is… well, let’s see. Well, I should start with multiplication. Multiplication is like… if you do 2 times 2, or you do 2 groups of 2, 2 + 2 is 4, then 2 times 2 is 4. 4 divided by 2, 2 times what gives you 4? 2. So, division is kind of like backwards of multiplication.”
Cora: “Math is also about knowing a lot of things… and like, she said, you need to know science to know math because in science you use math because sometimes it says something like 2.5 drops of this… and you need to know what 2.5 is, and that’s 2 and a half.”
It was so interesting to me that they were both so focused on the “skill” of math and not necessarily the processes. Both of these chicas are high achieving students, and Cora and I constantly have mathematical conversations, but this helped me realize that if we don’t explicitly have conversations about what mathematicians do, students may still focus on the answer getting part. Great aha for me!

Chrissy, this is fascinating. Isn’t it interesting how they go to the skills, the details, the nuts and bolts? Even with a mathematical mom! I think you’re spot on that we need to be more explicit. Don’t let it go unsaid.
Thanks for sharing!

SydneyI work in several different math classes and am planning on asking students this week what is means to be good at math. I am looking forward to sharing what I find out! I am anticipating many talking about speed unfortunately.

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