Grade 2 Math – A Window Into a Classroom

April 17, 2019
Posted in Learning
April 17, 2019 Callie Lane

At AISB, we believe that math learning should be engaging, purposeful and connected to real world contexts. During an inquiry into How We Organize Ourselves, students in Grade 2 have been learning how systems of measurement are used to meet the needs of people and communities. As the unit is drawing towards an end, students in 2JR have been participating in experiences that allow them to use measurement within the context of a real world situation.

To launch the engagement, Ms. Johanna gave students a challenge. Students started out by matching sets of cards. One set contained recipe ingredients and another set listed the ingredients, as sold at the store. For example, students would match a card from set A, which says that a recipe calls for 200 grams of butter with the card from set B that says butter sells in packages of 100 grams and that each package costs 8 lei. Then students had to note the quantity they would need to purchase in order to have enough for the recipe. They also had to determine how much money
each recipe item costs. In this case, they needed two packages of butter, and it would cost them 16 lei. This activity allowed students to learn about volume labels on packaging and forced them to think about the quantity they need to purchase.

Next, in small groups, students were given one of four recipes. Ms. Johanna said that the class would choose and make the recipe whose ingredients required the least amount of money to purchase. The room became abuzz with excitement. “I was excited.” said Maria. “I couldn’t wait to see which item would win. I knew which cake I wanted to make the most.”

Groups spent time on the Carrefour website creating shopping lists. They had to use the skills they had practiced earlier by determining the needed quantity of each ingredient. Then they added up the total cost for each recipe and compared those totals to determine the most inexpensive recipe. “The recipe I wanted to make was very expensive because we needed to have a lot of ingredients
and buy more than one of some of the items. I liked all of the cakes though, so it was ok,” a student later reflected.

Lastly, students got to visit the makerspace and use their reading and measurement skills to make a tasty ‘salam de biscuiti’, or rolled biscuit cake. They read the measurement amounts written on the food packaging labels, measured out ingredients, and followed the recipe steps to make their dessert. “It was very very very very messy because it had all sorts of ingredients like raisins,
cocoa, milk and vanilla. I enjoyed making it, but I had icky hands. Luckily, it was so delicious,” remarked Joao.

This opportunity allowed students to do more than practice math skills such as addition and measurement in isolation. Instead, they gained a better understanding of the big ideas that mathematics allow humans to complete daily tasks and that measurement helps organize our environment. This learning engagement integrated content outside of mathematics as well. Students gained practice in reading step by step directions of recipes. Group collaboration allowed them a platform to build communication skills by discussing, assisting, sharing responsibilities
and listening to one another. As one student put it, “This helped me in teamwork. It’s important to do teamwork because we weren’t lonely and alone doing it. We got good at measuring because we had to measure each of the ingredients and weigh all the grams. It helped me in my real life because now I know I don’t throw a big amount of flour in the bowl. I need to measure the amount.” “Yeah,” added Joao, “It helped me measure more precisely.”

When asked if they suggested this activity be done with next year’s Grade 2 students, there were enthusiastic head bobs. “Yes! It was really fun – definitely the funnest thing in my daily life.” said Joao. “I agree,” Maria added. “The kids will need to learn to measure ingredients too. It’s important for them to learn to do this so they will learn to measure better and quicker. Also, then their cakes will turn out.”