This year on our campus, we implemented Number Talks in every K-5 classroom to help develop our students’ computational fluency. It was a huge undertaking, but both teachers and students embraced it with enthusiasm. As the year comes to a close, we administer a computational assessment called the Portrait of a Maverick Mathematician, lovingly referred to as the Portrait, to ensure we’re sending our kiddos on to the next grade level having mastered the computational skills of the current grade level.
Tonight I want to celebrate the work of Mia, a phenomenal 3rd grade mathematician. She embodies the type of mathematicians we all hope to produce in our classrooms. Earlier this year, I featured Mia in a video I “produced” for a staff development session for her work helping a fellow classrmate understand the subtleties of model drawing. But tonight it’s her computational fluency I want to brag on.
It was a cloudy Tuesday in Katy, TX, and I was flipping through the pile of 3rd grade Portraits. I have to admit I was pretty impressed. In the instructions for the Portrait, students were told to use their most efficient strategy to solve each computational problem and reminded they could check their work using a second strategy. And check they did! Student after student checked subtraction by adding, or they checked their addition with a number line or splitting. Most students checked their multiplication problem either by repeated addition or by drawing a pictorial representation. Mia’s work, however, caught my eye.
Her strategy of breaking apart one of the factors was brilliant! One day, down the road, some junior high teacher will be teaching the distributive property and Mia will have a huge ah ha moment, because she was doing it in 3rd grade. I don’t know about you, but this is going to be my go-to strategy to recommend to students for checking multiplication from now on. If you like it, give Mia some love in the comments!
Check out this blog post for more information about the Portrait, including downloadable forms!