The Largest Tool in the Room: Solving Problems of Understanding at the Chalkboard

You told them how to multiply two-digit numbers. They seem to understand. But can they do it?

In this video, Laurie shares the advantages of bringing students to the board to work. When everyone’s work is visible, the teacher can correct mistakes, clarify misunderstandings, and monitor the progress of each student.

A lot of times they think they understand. I say the concept, I say the rules and like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it.” And then once we get up to the board, they’re like, “Wait, how do you do that?” Or, “I don’t understand what the next step is.”

So, I like using the chalkboard in my classes. It gives me a chance to evaluate how the kids are doing with their work, if they understand what I’ve been saying, and it gives me an easy way to catch those mistakes and to be able to fix them.

15 cents is what part of one dollar? So, if you want both of them to be cents?

It’s kind of like an evaluation tool, I guess you could say, but it’s also can be a little bit tricky to keep them focused. So it’s just good to make sure that they know what the rules are: Keep your hands to yourself, stay quiet, stay focused. If you’re waiting on someone else to finish, just be patient. As long as they’re not copying off of each other… I haven’t had a lot of problems with that. They’re fairly careful with their own work and pretty good with that. So I guess that would just be another procedure to be careful of as they go up [so that] they know what they’re doing.

I really like to use the same problem for all of them because—and I use the problems from the book—it keeps everyone on the same page. It’s very easy to see if someone’s going off track. That way if they all have the same problem, it doesn’t use as many problems from the book then as well if you do all the same.

There are problems with that then as well if you have a slow student [or] you have a fast student, and I’m still working on those as well. For slow students, in order to catch mistakes I’ll often watch them specifically doing the problem. Let’s say they’re doing multiplying, and I’ll see that one of their lines of multiplying is incorrect, so you just go over to them and say, “Oh wait, you messed up on that row. Check that line again.” That way they don’t have to wait until they’re done with the complete problem and then have to go back and try to find their mistake. So that’s a way to keep them all together. With fast students, make sure they understand to be patient and just, yeah, be okay with waiting for other kids to up.

The chalkboard method is especially for small classes. I have, my math class has five kids in it, so it’s easy to put five of them up on the board. With larger ones, I’m not sure this would be really a advisable way to do it. But for mine, especially small classrooms, small grades, it’s an easy way to watch their progress.

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