The Objectives of Objectives, Part Three: Joy

One of the reasons why we teach is because we want our students to experience the JOY of mathematics. Mathematics should be about questioning, wondering, and the joy of discovery…and math classes should leave students wanting to know more math and do more math thinking. We cannot build an appreciation of math through content standards alone. Math classes should be filled with opportunities for students to have voice and a choice. At the very least, they need a voice in making meaning of problems and a choice in how they go about seeking a pathway to a solution.

But sometimes we (or our textbooks) squash all the joy out of a math lesson. We rob them of their right to notice math things, wonder about math ideas, or do messy math stuff. And lessons that focus on “measurable outcomes” with “explicitly defined objectives” often euthanize mathematical curiosity.

Array-Bow of Skittles and Multiplication Strategies

This lesson write-up is for teaching a two-digit by two-digit multiplication 3-Act Math lesson where students estimate the number of Skittles in a jar before using information and math to find a more accurate estimate. It uses Graham Fletcher’s Array-Bow lesson and while it addresses standard 4.NBT.5, it’s appropriate for 4th and 5th grade students of all levels. The write-up contains a lesson pathway with specific questions/moves to consider, analysis of the opportunities for student learning, and other wisdoms and insights we learned from teaching this lesson as a part of a lesson inquiry.

Give it a try with your own students. And then tell me how it went. Let’s make it better together.