As part of our learning experience in Planning for the Diversity of Learners, we are required to tutor in one of the surrounding schools for an authentic classroom experience. I was paired earlier in the semester with a 5th grade teacher, at Overstreet Elementary School. Each week, when I go to visit, she pairs me with a student to go out to the hallway and work on multiplication facts with. I have worked with ~10 students this semester. Each one of them is unique. They solve problems differently. They have different attention spans. They know different amounts of their multiplication facts. They are different races. They are different genders. They have different home lives. Some of their parents are willing and able to help with their homework; others aren’t. But they are all in Mrs. Brasher’s 5th grade math class.
I’ve learned a little about each of the kids that I have had the opportunity to work with. I usually introduce myself and ask them about their day to start off our tutoring session. We’ll work a few multiplication problems. That’s when I learn about what type of problem solving abilities they have developed and what they know or don’t know. Sometimes they share personal information about what their parents do or don’t do to help them at home.
I am sure there are many ways to teach and to model multiplication. In fact, multiplication has been modeled to me several ways, and these kids have even created some of their own. But I worry for them and for their classmates. I worry that maybe the students need more individualized attention. Maybe they need to be ale to test out their own creative multiplication models. Maybe they need to ask more questions, but they don’t know how.
I think one of the biggest things that is missing from the classroom is modeling question-asking and then expecting questions from students. We need to help them and let them think.