After blogging about Mia’s great strategy for checking her multiplication problem, several people asked me about the Portrait I referenced in that blog post. Of course I’m happy to share what we’re doing!
Let me give you some background. I taught 5th grade for many years before stepping into the coaching role. Every year, I had kiddos come to me who could not subtract with regrouping, let alone multiply or divide! And I’m not talking 1 or 2 students, I’m talking many. So along with teaching my grade level skills, I had to spend significant time remediating skills from previous grade levels. Here’s my theory about why that happens. We typically teach our computation units early in the year. In our district, grades 3-5 are finished with their computation units by winter break. Some kiddos get it, and some don’t. But we move on in the curriculum and don’t remediate what they didn’t get. That happens every year, so it’s a snowball effect that becomes a full-blown avalanche by 5th grade. And it’s not because teachers don’t have the best intentions. They most certainly do! But they also have a million and one thing on their plates.