Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mental math and a FREEBIE!


I am posting about my mental math creation.  I normally focus on writing, but I like being creative with math as well.  A few years back, I started asking students mental math questions.  For example, “What is 4 x 4 plus 10?”  As the year gradually progressed, so did the problems.  I would add several step problems to the mental math routine where the students had to multiply, divide, add and subtract in the same problem.   

One day, I started mixing up the problems by putting objects around the room into the mental math questions.  Add the number of students in the class to our room number and add fifty to that number.  Take the ordinal number of President Grant and add the total number of fourth grade classes in our school to that number.

Since it wasn’t easy thinking of worldly facts off the top of my head, I decided to write some of my ideas down in the form of mental math task cards.  This concept has taken off in my room and students always ask for more problems.  The students and myself are eager for the beginning of math time.  The cards are leveled beginner, intermediate and advanced.  This is more than a mental math activity because it crosses so many subject areas.

There are various ways to implement the cards.  I hold the cards in one hand and a soft ball in the other.  I walk around the room asking the questions in a step-by-step manner.  I toss the ball to the student who is giving the response.  If that student is incorrect, he/she tosses the ball back and I toss the ball to another student.  I scan the room, but I try to give everybody a chance at answering.  As the weeks pass by, the cards will be repeated, but that is ok because the knowledge is reinforced.  I allow students to write their answers on dry erase boards, but most solve the problems in their heads.  

Another approach is to have students pair up to solve the mental math questions.  Each student receives four cards and they act as the teacher giving the step-by-step problem to their partner.  After a few minutes, the students switch roles and ask their set of mental math questions.    

If you have centers in your class, please feel free to have your students use the mental math cards in that setting.  Maybe you can keep a log, notebook, answer sheet, etc. for the student answers.

You might have your own mental math practices, but feel free to give my cards a chance.  Here is a link to a freebie so you can see what my cards look like!  I believe you will enjoy them.  If you are interested in more you can find them through the link to my TPT store.  I currently have two sets available!


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