Monday, September 2, 2013

mental math activity

Today in Math we were talking about mental math strategies.
We did some sample questions and then talked them out in pairs and small groups.
26 + 10 =              26 + 12 =               36 - 10 =            You get the drill.
My kids had some really different ways of answering the equations.
We did a few of these simple ones, and most of their addition and subtraction skills seem in pretty good shape!
(After that I pulled out the toughies... 250 + 70      300 - 18     90 + 40     etc.)

When I started to see their attention slipping, I knew we had to break out the individual white boards.
Off the top of my head, I came up with a great activity that got everyone moving and practicing some mental math.
For some reason, "in the middle of lessons" seems to be the best time for me to come up with fun little activities - I guess I'm just more in the zone at those times.
We called the activity "The Quiet Math Game!"
Oddly, I find a lot of kids like the challenge of nonverbal communication... happy teacher!

Give each student a small white board.
Ask each to write a mental math problem on the board. (We used addition and subtraction questions only since I know some of my students are not familiar with multiplication and division concepts, but this could easily be adapted.)
They do NOT write the answer on the board, but they do figure it out and memorize it.
Next, they walk around with their white board and marker silently finding a "partner."
Jack will look at Jill's question and calculate it mentally.
When he knows the answer, he will write it in the corner on his own white board for Jill to see.
Jill will check it and give a thumbs up or thumbs down.
Then Jill will look at Jack's question and calculate it mentally, same as above.
When they are both correct they do a little high five, erase the answers in the corner, and find a new buddy.
It was a lot of fun and I loved the little "math brain" buzz in the room!

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