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Thursday, December 11, 2014

How Much to Push: Computation Skill and Mastery

The students have been working diligently to reach proficiency with traditional algorithms for all operations. Currently, for the most part, they've mastered addition and subtraction with large numbers and decimals. Now it's time to solidify multiplication and division with large numbers and decimals. Many are approaching mastery, and others need more teaching, review, and/or practice.

There are many paths to travel when it comes to reaching proficiency including the following:
  • Learning with the whole class as the teacher reviews the material on the board.
  • Working with a teacher one-to-one or in a small group.
  • Working with a peer teacher.
  • Watching videos and practicing with online exercises using Khan Academy.
  • Completing That Quiz online homework assignments.
  • Working with a family member.
  • Making up problems on your own, practicing, and checking your work with a calculator. 
Building computation facility and fluency helps to build students' confidence and ability to reach for higher level math concepts and understanding.  

Yet if we over practice, students will lose interest.

So the question at hand with this unit is how much to push--we want the "dance," the give-and-take where students are learning at a good pace with a personalized approach.

We'll study and practice a lot in the days to come and then students will take the unit test. After vacation we'll pick up where we left off.