Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Concept of Equals

This is always a favourite lesson of mine. I love listening and observing students inquire into and displaying their understanding of what equals means.

A formative assessment from the previous lesson told me that most students has misconceptions about the meaning of equals.

"It means total"
"It is the answer"
"It's the amount"

One student said, "it means the same". I followed on with this.

I read the wonderful book, Equal Shmequal by Virginia Kroll

At one point in the story at little turtle asks, "What does equals mean?"

I stopped their and then asked them to show me their understanding of, what it "means"?

I got out scales, fraction prices, cubes, corks, clocks, dominoes and white boards to see if students could make the connection that equals can be used not just in an equation.

After giving students a chance to show me their thinking many started to gain an understanding that equals means the same as.

I then did a number talk using this equation:

1+1+1= 2+1

I asked them to prove it and reflect on why it was true or false.

Here are some of their reflections

Lessons like this prove to me the value of inquiry maths and inquiry in general. In the past I would have just assumed that this concept was known. Students understanding in maths is much more important than simply solving problems and so much more fun as well.

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