Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Messing With Their Heads

I know - it's not something they teach you in your training. I know it is abuse of trust. I know I shouldn't be advocating this.


I wanted to see what would happen when I showed my Grade 2 kids this on the white board:

I had just spent Saturday at the Canberra Maths Association conference where I presented a workshop on multiplication. I am interested in kids understanding what multiplication is all about - not just in memorising parrot-fashion their times tables (although memorisation is important, it sure has helped me in life, but it needs to be backed up with understanding.)


I put the "2x tables" as above in front of the kids.

And they were happy to start reading them out, chanting as they went.


About half way down, their confidence started to waiver and the mumblings grew.

By the time we got to the end, with me loudly proclaiming that 12 x 2 = 122, I had very few followers.

And some insolent 8 year olds began to suggest that I had made a few mistakes!


Anyway, I got them to help me correct my errors, which they did:

And order was restored to the universe.

Why did I do this, when I knew that many of my students were uncertain and lacked confidence in multiplication?

Why did I deliberately give them wrong information and incorrect answers that would confuse them?

Well, I was hoping that they would be able to use the knowledge they had to find the mistakes, correct them and re-establish the pattern that they knew underlies the 2x tables.

And they did.

And hopefully no-one went home and told their parents that Mr Ferrington is hopeless at maths and doesn't even know that 3 x 2 = 6.

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