Ep 147: The Area Model to Build Reason

Uncategorized Apr 13, 2023

Episode 147 of my podcast, Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris, is all about using area models to building intuition with the square unit of measurement for area.

I start off by modeling a problem string with my co-host Kim, the diagram of which you can find below:

In the podcast, I ask Kim to channel her inner student so that she replies with what we would expect from students and not her own super numeracy powered brain.

I'll leave you to listen to episode if you want the details, but the gist of it is we move through progressively more complicated problems while noting specific moves we would make in a classroom setting to help everyone access the learning as we use area models to build spatial and multiplicative reasoning in students.

Just as an area model is not a series of steps for students to mindlessly parrot to compute answers, it is also not a magical way of drawing shapes that will teach students how to multiply if just dropped in front of them. It's more about asking students to think about a problem, pulling out their reasoning, making that reasoning visible using the area model, and then helping make generalizations. I say helping make generalizations because it is in the generalizing process that learning gets sharpened and focused and therefore learning occurs, it happens, it is cemented.

Successful use of the area model as a teaching tool requires both pedagogical skill and self understanding of the component relationships. Some students will take the model and run with it. Many will require a teacher to nudge them into more complex ways of reasoning. All will benefit from building the intuition with numbers and space that is essential to accessing higher math.

Check out the episode here: https://bit.ly/mathpcast147


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