Monthly Archives: October 2017
Today I had the pleasure of serving in my official role as an ambassador of Global Math Week. More than 910,000 students participated from around the globe, and the lesson was one that had applications for all ages.
The lesson was the idea of Exploding Dots. Rather than explaining it, I’ll share this link with you, since the creator, Dr. James Tanton, explains it much better: https://vimeo.com/204368634
I worked with our district’s Math Director, Mary Kemper, to visit as many campuses as we could to see how they were teaching and applying Exploding Dots in their classrooms.
Our first stop was Lee Elementary, where educator May Voltz had clearly been teaching this for a while. Students began with a review: Several machines of different bases were drawn on the whiteboard with dots already filled in. The students were required to figure out the value in each machine. Students shared their answers with the class by writing on the whiteboard.
Students were then given four new questions, again with different machines, and dots filled in. Each question was outlined in a different colored square. The question was, which of these values was different from the others, and why? Students made short work of calculating the values. But then they had to compare and contrast with the other answers to see which was different. Once the choice was made, a student could stand under a colored ball hanging from the ceiling. The color of the ball of their choice matched the color of the machine value that was different from the rest.
As you can imagine, there was reasoning why any of the four answers were different, and none of those reasonings were incorrect. Students were successful by simply having a justified opinion.
photos by Ian VanderSchee
I then ventured to Middle School East, where several teachers were participating in this event. A presentation had been made with animations and sound, and shared with all teachers.
Mary and I were was able to visit the classrooms of Amanda Cooper, Brooke Apple, Leia Poskey, Shawn Reck, Donna Arnold, and Kindal Renaud, all of whom shared their enthusiasm for Exploding Dots with their classes. It was quite an inspiring sight!
All of the teachers were starting at the beginning – explaining the “2 to 1” machine. Since these were middle schoolers, they learned how to apply it to long division. Students learned how to group dots together according to what the divisor was, and they discussed what to do if there were leftover dots that couldn’t be grouped. It was a problem solving activity, but most if not all students agreed that this method of dividing numbers is much easier than the old way.
photos by Mary Kemper
What a rewarding day!! I can’t wait to get back to my classroom and work on Exploding Dots in my own classes. Now that I’ve seen the excitement it created, I look forward to seeing that same excitement from my own students!!