Playing With Math

Since Adrian finished Math-U-See Gamma a few weeks ago, he’s been using Khan Academy 4th grade for math. It’s been fascinating watching him play with the math problems to find the answers.

For example, a couple days ago he started adding and subtracting mixed numbers. He doesn’t like the watch the videos unless he really can’t figure out what to do (he says he gets bored and can’t pay attention). So he had never done anything with mixed numbers when he jumped right into solving the problems.

The most amazing thing happened. He figured out the easy ones very fast (these are very basic mixed numbers with the denominators the same). Then he got to addition problems that required him to add a one to the whole number and show what was left of the fraction. He got it wrong the first time, but quickly figured out his mistake.

The subtraction tripped him up a bit. He tried subtracting the wrong way (1-5=4). When that didn’t work he got the idea to borrow a whole number, but he still didn’t get it right. He finally asked for a hint and looked at the first two they gave him and then knew what to do. He borrowed correctly, subtracted correctly, typed his answer, and was even given a “grit” badge for keeping with it until he solved it correctly. After that, with a few mistakes along the way, he eventually managed to get 5 correct in a row.

It’s really fun watching him figure out the math for himself. He’s not afraid to get answers wrong so he’s willing to try and try and try again. Once he gets the concept figured out, it’s solid in his head. It just makes sense to him. Honestly, for this particular kid, letting him play with math and figure it out on his own works way better than trying to teach him how to do it (probably because of that previously mentioned “I get bored and stop paying attention” thing).

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