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The Gordon School

Beyond the multiplication tables

Art, writing as part of a rich conversation in third grade math

Third grade is about to tackle double-digit multiplication.

 

But first, they played with the ideas behind multiplication.
 

They began with a Chinese folktale about a magic pot that doubles everything that is put in it.
 

Then, they recreated the story for themselves, with golden rings, puppies and donuts.
 

They stacked towers of squares, toying with the idea of perimeters and areas all the way.
 

They drew pixilated pals and carefully broke down their dimensions.
 

And, most recently, they did post office math with stamps of their own creation.
 

They hand-drew sheets of emoji stamps, Aztec stamps, Statue of Liberty stamps and creeper stamps.
 

Each stamp had a value, and each sheet had rows and columns.
 

The stamp creators all calculated the price of their sheets, and showed their work.
 

Then, today, they had a gallery show.
 

Their classmates had a chance to respond to each piece
 

They all had ideas, and alternate takes, on how to tally the price of each sheet.
 

The gallery was silent, so everyone had to use written sentences to express their arithmetical opinions.
 

Soon, they will return to pure numbers and tackle their times tables.
 

When they do, they’ll already have a vivid mental picture of numbers like thirty-six.
 

They’ll know it can be six groups of six and it can be four rows of nine.
 

They’ll even have their favorite ways to factor these numbers...
 

and they’ll understand that other people prefer to factor them other ways.
 

They’ll know their multiplication tables inside out...
 

and it will be so much more than memorization.

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