The Common Core math standards expect second graders to do 3-digit addition and subtraction, and do problems in a variety of ways. Some students will pick up certain methods really quickly. Other approaches may come more easily for other students.
Given the diverse needs of these classrooms, teachers at Earl Boyles Elementary School came up with an approach to target instruction to students’ individual needs, relying heavily on technology.
In short, teachers have become video producers. If you heard my story this morning, you might have heard a song reminding students when a subtraction problem requires “borrowing,” or “re-grouping,” as teachers call it nowadays.
Here’s a video teachers produced to help students remember the song:
The videos are fun, and that certainly appeals to students. But it’s also part of an increasingly popular approach, called the “flipped classroom.” The concept started on college campuses, with students watching video-taped lectures as “homework,” freeing up class time with the professor for hands-on work, discussion, problem-solving, and in some ways, the kind of work students would have done on their own as “homework.”
At Earl Boyles, second grade teachers often start off by having students watch videotaped lessons in class on district-owned laptops. Then, students might do a few problems, so teachers can see how well they understood the lesson. Teachers say the video lessons often work better for second graders, because the alternative— explaining complex concepts to wiggly 7- and 8-year-olds as they sit together on the carpet, or at their desks — isn’t always the most effective.
So, on to the videos of 3-digit subtraction. The “standard method” is probably the most familiar for those of us who haven’t been teaching or observing second grade math lessons recently.
Here’s a demonstration from Earl Boyles second grade teacher, Jen DiFrancis:
Student Josh claims “everybody loves place value.” Josh likes drawing the boxes, lines and dots, and then crossing them off to subtract. Second grade teacher Matt Marlia, shows us how it works:
And here is the method that Earl Boyles teachers affectionately call the “Dominic” method, after a third grader credited with perfecting it.
Second grade teacher, Deb McGowan, walks us through a simpler problem with this method (it doesn’t require “regrouping” or “borrowing”):
The Earl Boyles teachers say they’ve been using the “flipped” classroom approach for much of the school year, and believe the jumps in math understanding they’ve observed are at least partly due to the change in approach.