Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Another Breakthrough

Catherine hates the Singapore bar modeling. We tried it when we first got the Singapore texts a year ago and she was almost in tears with frustration. We tried to touch on it several times since and with the same results every time.

I gave up, showed her a bit of algebra and decided that maybe she was more comfortable with abstract algebra then visual bar models.

Well, we tried again today. The fact that it was a visual model that got through to Catherine on the long division yesterday made me think that the bar models were worth one more shot. Maybe it wasn't the bar models, maybe it was me.

We read a problem. Something simple about a farmer that had x number of chickens, sold y number and asked how many he had left. I drew the bar model and explained it. Catherine was already getting upset. Then I looked at the bars and decided they looked like boxes.

"Wait a minute Catherine. This isn't a bar model. Those rectangles are boxes that the farmer puts his chickens in. He has x number in the whole box, y number in this portion...How many more chickens are in the box?"

"Oh! I get it!" said Catherine.

And that was it. Bar models are now box models and whatever is in the word problem, whether it's chicken or people or televisions, gets put in the box model. The problem was that the bar model had no relation to the word problems. She didn't understand how those rectangles related to the chickens. Once I created a picture (chickens in boxes) she was fine. One year of avoiding bar models and in one minute the avoidance was over.

I then had her draw out several more word problems on the dry erase board and she did them perfectly.

One year. One whole year. D'uh.


Lynn said...

At our end, all math concepts are best understood as plates of chocolate chip cookies - and pans of pizza. :]

sunniemom said...

Your story reminds me of one Steve Moitozo tells about his dd who is an auditory learner. You can listen to him at

The story is on the "17 Secrets for Homeschoolers" file.