Homework is not the answer!
Okay, so there is definitely real value in doing homework. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, right? Well, I was reading the blog called "Let's Play Math" authored by Denise. As I read the posts, one follower stated that with the use of new techniques and strategies in math, the parents are the ones learning the homework while trying to help their children with their homework. Denise responded with yes, and that is why at a young age, she is not a fan of homework.
I thought that was very interesting. I thought about earlier discussions we had with learning new math strategies and how parents and teachers are so used to learning one way, it can be a challenge to "get on board" with new the new ways. The new ways of learning math should be taught and mastered in the classroom. I do think the biggest challenge with this is time. But time cannot be a barrier to better or at the very least different ways of understanding things like algebra.
One of the strategies young students are using to learning about addition, subtraction and multiplication is by using bar diagrams. I think bar diagrams give a clear understanding of numbers and relationships. The blogger, Denise, gives a nice explanation of what a bar diagram is. She says imagine legos lines up. You have the whole part and the parts that make up the whole.
There is a website that is used for practice of this technique and helps make learning fun by using an interactive game. The link is http://www.thinkingblocks.com/ThinkingBlocks_AS/TB_AS_Main.html
Denise also references a book called Mr Poppers Penguins. This book uses word problems and the bar diagram to solve them. Here is a sample: Mr Popper had 78 fish. The penguins ate 40 of them. How many fish did Mr Popper have left? The problems start out easy and get harder. I think by having a clear understanding of the relationship between numbers helps to make the harder problems using multiplication and division easier.
Here is a humorous math clip showing different understandings.