It's a good rule. For one, it imposes a structure on the year, a net for me to play tennis with. It also means that I get lots of the benefits of a curriculum without losing any flexibility. By sticking to the units I make sure that, on a macro level, the material that we're learning is connected and that topics are reviewed and previewed in a sensible fashion. (An added bonus is that if I use the big-level sequencing of a curriculum, and I can use a lot of their homework materials, cutting down my workload.)
(Another teaching rule: Homework is sometimes necessary, but its impact on my life should be minimal.)
Anyway: I'm prepping for the next few weeks of 4th Grade right now, and my usual rules and tricks are faltering, and I could use some help.
The TERC Investigations curriculum has, as its next unit, a series of lessons about place value, addition and subtraction and numbers up to 10,000.
The problem is that I'm pretty sure that this stuff is all going to be too easy for my kids. So, just skip the entire unit. Well, for a couple of reasons I try to avoid that. First, maybe my kids are 85% of the way to where they need to be. That's close enough that this unit might be too easy, but not a waste of their times. Second, I'm sure that I have some students who would super-duper benefit from this unit.
So, just make the unit harder. How? By bumping up the numbers that we're dealing with by several orders of magnitude, I guess.
But the other problem is that I don't really have any mathematically juicy lessons, either for addition or large numbers. After a bit of thinking, I was able to come up with some preliminary ideas:
- Make a book with 100 numbers on each page. What page would 45,321 be on? What about 12,000,345?
- If we could deal with some juicy visual contexts that involve huge quantities, then we could end up with contexts for lots of big-number math.
- Pick random big numbers; pick random kids; ask them to add random numbers in their brains, share strategies; rinse; repeat.
- More? Help?
I'm also still not really sure where my kids struggle. Like, they definitely sometimes get freaked out by large numbers, but what sorts of mistakes or misconceptions are they going to have with this stuff? What is it going to look like for a kid to mess up with large numbers or big addition?
Any help that you guys could provide here would be helpful. I'll hang out in the comments.