My 10-year-old grandson (5th grade) just called me on the phone. He told me he thought he figured something out. He asked me what 2/3 of 3/4 was and I answered 6/12. He excitedly replied “That’s what I got!” He said his teacher showed the class how to make a rectangle model to multiply fractions, but he noticed something about the numbers and did it a few more times and it kept happening. He said “Grandma, I think you can just multiply across and get the answer!” I can’t describe the enthusiasm in his voice and how proud he was to have figured out this shortcut.
So what was so special about this phone call? His pure excitement! He has never called me to enthusiastically talk about a math rule he was asked to memorize. What was different tonight is that he figured it out himself. What a gift his teacher gave by not placing the focus on memorizing the rule for multiplying fractions. She allowed this child to explore, observe, conjecture, and then test that conjecture. That is what math is all about!