Sunday, May 26, 2013
Teaching Arrays with Sticky Notes
Okay, I'll come right out and say it-- teaching multiplication in 2nd grade is hard.
A few of my students still have yet to master their addition and subtraction facts, but then, many of my students are at the point where they're itching to learn multiplication and division! Some kiddos already have started memorizing their "times tables" with the help of siblings or parents, so I have to ask myself, do I really want them just learning those rote multiplication facts without a conceptual understanding of why multiplication is what it is (and what it means)?! Aye aye aye! You can see what I mean!
So, with only 3 weeks left in our school year, our curriculum begins to introduce multiplication. By no means do my second graders have to master multiplication nor division by the end of year, but I guess I do believe that now, a small, well planned out introduction is necessary and can be done...as long as it is done slowly and "deeply" for all students!
Along with teaching "groups of" and "skip counting" as methods to begin multiplication, our curriculum also calls for us to teach arrays. For those of you unfamiliar, an array is basically an arrangement of a group of objects or numbers, lined in equal rows or columns, neatly...so students can see "___ rows of ___" or "___ columns of ___".
After introducing my kiddos to the vocabulary, we made a few changes to the definition to make it work for our activity!
We crossed out "numbers" and under the word object, wrote "sticky notes", so our new definition to use for the day was "an arrangement of a set of sticky notes in rows". Perfect!
Then, we got going with some hands-on practice, because after all, that's the best way to learn anything! On the board, I would write a statement, such as "10 rows of 2". The students then would write the same on their dry erase boards. Finally, as a table, they would make these arrays with sticky notes, and on their dry erase boards, under the "10 rows of 2", they would decide upon the corresponding multiplication sentence and write it!
At the very end of our class practice, I gave each table a different multiplication sentence, such as "8 x 3" or "5 x 4", and together, they had to figure out the array, arrange it, and write both the array statement with "rows of" and multiplication sentence:
Finally, we stuck our posters on the wall, to use as reference material for the rest of the year, and added an entry to our math spiral, to use as a reference, too:
So, there you have it...a quick, easy, and fun yet conceptual array lesson to help introduce students to multiplication! This was the first year to use stickies (considering the idea popped into my head at 3:56 in the middle of the night...isn't that always when the best ideas come, in the middle of sleep?), but I couldn't of asked for a better way to teach my kiddos. They loved it, I loved it, and they learned...what more could a girl ask for?!
I'd love to hear how you all introduce and teach multiplication and division concepts...I'm always looking for new teaching strategies, especially this late in the year, when my brain is fried and ready for summer! :)