Saturday, October 04, 2008

3rd grade math...

...has changed, people! The other day Big Sis' math homework started with 4 word problems. Okay, I had word problems in 3rd grade. (I think, after all, it's been a long time!) But these word problems seem to require algebra to solve. Or at least that's the only way I could solve them! Example: What two numbers have a sum of 39 and a difference of 11?

So, I did the only thing I could think to do. I sat there and tried to teach my not-quite-8-year-old some algebra, complete with x's and y's. She didn't much like having letters mixed up in her math. Can't say I blamed her. Where was her engineer-degreed father when we needed him?!

UPDATE: Thanks for the comments explaining the mysterious workings of 3rd grade math. How sad that I needed them! Of course, I wouldn't have needed them had the teacher bothered to send something home stating that's how those problem should be solved! But I digress. I still think it would make more sense to simply give them drill or practice sheets if they need to practice adding and subtracting (and believe me, they do!). Why go about it in such a round-about way? It seems inefficient and confusing to the kids (and parents!). If kids are struggling with math, this is not going to make them feel any better about the subject.


Jens P said...

An 8-year old needs some practice in adding and subtracting. So why not just fimd two numbers that added makes 39. We try 28 and 11, but subtacted the result is too large. So we make the largest smaller and the smallest larger. Next we try 27 and 12, here the difference is nearer the wanted number. So we go on till we have found the right answer, and have had a number of practice.

Jody said...

I feel your pain. Rachel's class recently worked on multiplication with two and three digit numbers. Fine. I can do that. However, I was concerned when the teacher sent home a note stating that the class would be trying some "new" techniques. Yikes! Having passsed fourth grade, I don't think I should have such a hard time with my child's homework.

Meredith said...

Yeah, I learned that with my daughter two years ago. It's a T chart. You do what Jen P said. You pick two numbers and then make a list. Adjusting based on the difference... (assume I started at the bottom)

13 26
14 25
15 24
16 23
17 22
18 21
19 20

I know we were not taught this way in school. Grown ups will always use algebra instead, so why learn the check and guess? Oh, yeah... it's the state test. aaahhh... I'll stop there.

Amy said...

As a former 4th grade math teacher, I was going to tell youj this is called the "guess and check" strategy. But wait...I just read the other comments. It's exactly what Meredith said. But the parents of my students (the ones who worked with their kids, anyway) always tried to help their kids by showing them algebra.

Marine Wife said...

I guess I didn't immediately go to the guess and check thing b/c that seemed really stupid. Sorry to the educators out there.

If the kids need practice not give them a practice sheet instead of a confusing word problem? Especially if the parents are going to use algebra to solve it b/c we didn't do guess and check back in our day?

The whole thing seems very inefficient to me!

Guard Wife said...

Oh, sweet Jesus. It's the "guess and check."

Yeah. I taught M1 algebra. Worked for us only b/c M1's teacher didn't seem to understand it either. No t-charts, no nothing. No real instruction from her either. You remember my pain.

It would be terrific, as a parent, if either 1) the teacher actually demonstrated a strategy that didn't involve algebra equations or 2) employ a textbook that was not so God-forsaken as the one M1 has.

Meredith said...

I agree with Marine wife and Guard wife. I thought it was asinine. and no, our third grade teacher sent NO SAMPLES home. I had to call another teacher, whose child was in the class. Eli would've failed without my inside scoop.... Her teacher was retiring and putting out minimal effort.