Tale?Of The Tape

“Let’s get ready to solve our math word problem using the tape diagram,” said Tari Geisler, Bush Elementary School fourth-grade teacher, pointing to a diagram on the classroom screen, which shows a long rectangle resembling a piece of tape. The rectangle is divided into three parts shaded black, gray and white.

Geisler asks the class, “How long is the whole piece of tape?”

“7,104 inches,” said the students.

“How much is the whole shaded part? Both black and grey?”

“You need to add the black area, 4,295, and the grey area, 982, together,” said a student.

“Correct, so the whole shaded area is 5,277. But, we’ve only partially solved the problem. How do we solve for A, the part that is white?”

“Take the entire tape amount, 7,104 and subtract 5,277, the amount of the shaded areas,” said a student.

Geisler was teaching a lesson from the NYS fourth grade curriculum modules. Bush Elementary School’s team of fourth grade teachers, Tiffany MacCallum, Amy Vezina and Geisler, are all using the NYS math modules in their classrooms.

The teachers implemented the new math modules to align their curriculum to the Common Core Learning Standards. As all students are instructed in the modules, the teachers are able to differentiate their lessons by offering more instruction for those students who encounter difficulty, and enrichment opportunities for students who master concepts quickly.

Fourth-grade students are working toward mastery as they add and subtract large numbers beginning with values such as 387 and 2,438 and progressing to millions (6,588,395).

Later this year, students will delve into multi-digit multiplication and division (ex: 23 x 124 = 2,852), and will round out their year with the study of fractions.

As students work to develop their skills in computation, they will also use visual models, such as tape diagrams, to represent and solve world problems. Tape diagrams are one of many models used in mathematics to help students to visualize and represent quantities, in order to better understand the relationships between them. These models help students to access what may otherwise be abstract concepts that are difficult to understand. By understanding these concepts more deeply, students can become more efficient and accurate problem solvers.

If parents have more questions on the Common Core Learning Standards, they can find more information at EngageNY.org under “Parent and Family Resources.” (www.engageny.org/parent-and-familyresources) Parents should also always feel comfortable talking to their child’s teacher and principal to learn more about the curriculum and how to help their child at home.