BY BARRY WARNER
Games or challenges can stimulate students’ natural drive to problem-solve. Each challenge in Dr. Cortney Malandra’s third grade class at Cherry Lane Elementary in Suffern was designed to immerse the participants in the experience as they raced against the clock before time expired.
In challenge number one, students had to ‘skip count by fours’ in order to get the letters to solve a cryptogram. Skip counting is counting by numbers other than one and sets the stage for learning multiplication facts. Once the cryptogram was solved, some children walked over to a wall map showing the Continent of Africa, on which they found a key to open a locked box which contained items that would initiate their assignments.
Dr. Cortney Malandra said, “Students can more readily develop an
understanding of multiplication concepts, if they see visual
representations of the calculation process. For example, they can
picture students in a marching band arranged in equal rows or chairs set up in rows in an auditorium. These arrangements or patterns all have something in common; they are in rows and columns. An arrangement of numbers in rows and columns is called an array.”
In the array of circles on the left (see photo), there are four rows and six columns and the multiplication sentence reads 4X6=24, while in the array on the right there are 6 rows and 4 columns, therefore the multiplication sentence reads 6X4=24. Students learn that changing the order of the rows and columns does not affect the answers to the multiplication problems.
In the concluding challenge, students were tasked with creating a Google Drawing on their Chromebook computers to show an array that matched a multiplication expression. They then turned on the ‘share’ setting to access a URL address to their specific drawing that was posted onto the Google Form, which was a way to ‘hand in’ their assignments.