Working Together to Understand “Borrowing”


Yesterday, the students of 4A were given a subtraction problem. With a partner, their task was to display their method of problem solving in four ways: 1) with base-ten pieces, 2) by drawing a picture, 3) by writing words, and 4) traditional arithmetic. The idea was to actually see what happens when you “borrow” while doing a subtraction problem rather than just following a process, thus gaining a deeper understanding of subtraction.

As I walked around the room and eavesdropped on conversations, I became more and more impressed with each group I watched. They became completely engaged in their learning; communicating their thinking with their partner and working through struggles.

I was blown away. This level of independent thinking and cooperative learning doesn’t normally happen this early in the school year. I was so proud of what the group accomplished.

Here is a sampling of some of the learning that took place:

Understanding Subtraction from Kevin Baumbach on Vimeo.