Monday, January 16, 2017

Can you count backwards from 100 by 7s? {Math Monday}

My in-laws were here over the holidays and my father in-law mentioned he just had his annual physical and everything went well.  He shared they asked him to do two tasks and he thought it was to show mental wellness.  When he told me the first task, I knew right away he passed that with flying colors.  He had to recite the alphabet backwards and he's been doing that for as long as I have known him.  A task I can't do.  

When he shared the next task I was worried but he didn't act worried.  The task was to subtract 7 from 100 down to 0-ish.  He didn't let on he couldn't do this or that he struggled so I wanted to know more and started an investigation.   I was envisioning regrouping mentally and I was stumped because it was taking me too long to think it through.  I asked him how he figured this out and he said, "oh it was easy - you subtract 7 one time and then subtract 10, adding back 3 each time."  I had to ponder and visualize this; only to confirm he was right.

I would assume much of my father in-laws math education involved learning how to regroup.  I was so proud of him for using an effective strategy to show his mental wellness.  Often parents I work with struggle to understand how strategies other than regrouping can make sense and be effective.  I'm going to share this little nugget with people when they need a concrete example for why we teach different strategies.

I also think this is a great story to share with students who also need to know why we study things and why different strategies can be helpful.


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