# Math Conversations at Home – ask “how many ways”

April 2, 2020In the last post I gave an overview of ideas to help have productive and joyful math conversations at home. Now let’s drill down on one of those ideas.

The concept is simple. At some point today, when you and your child are working on math together, don’t ask “what’s the answer.” Ask, “how many ways can we find the answer?”

Ask “how many ways can we find the answer?”

And then you play the game of actually finding as many ways to solve a problem as you can.

Why does this help? Because math that’s about getting the answer one way and then stopping leads to fragile understanding. But when we have many tools and strategies at our disposal, and start to find connections between them, our understanding becomes robust.

Check out the video below to see this idea in action, and then try out the challenge at home!

This is 2 minutes of gold! Thank you for your succinct and excellent advice!

THANKS so much for being you and keeping us going through all this craziness right now!!!

Love this video Dan! Thanks!

Good video!! thank you

Good video. Thank you!

This is great!

Thank you, excellent information

My child has severe autism. All questions need to be very concrete multiple was of doing things are confusing and cause great frustration

This is a great way to think outside the box for the answer! Great info!

Great ideas and different ways to use math.

Math for love

What a great way to look at math.

Great concept for children to learn differently

I love new ideas

Very interesting way to let each child find their own way and know that there is no wrong way.

I surely never thought of it that way. You can use this idea in many other activities not just math

I love all the different approaches to get the correct answer, there are different ways kids or adults can think outside the box. Excellent video!

This shows so many great ways to think outside the box.

A way to try and make math ‘less scary,’ allowing students to choose the way they learn best, not how the book wants them to learn.

Very helpful!

Very interesting!

I find that as an adult I am learning more strategies to do math with the students. I wish they did this when I was in school.

Some of these ideas I try to use because they are great but they only seem work with 3rd and up, however; if the students don’t have a strong base on addiction and subtraction it is near impossible for them to learn more than one way. It is a great video nonetheless.

I would not think of doing it this way. I always tried to get math over with and get to the answer the fastest. I can see where this would be useful.

I love asking student how many different way they can find an answer, and then we compare. It challenges them to see if they can beet me.

Interesting ideas. We know that as time and curriculum change, the way Math is taught/learned changes and there is opportunity to teach students different ways to get to an answer. Some students are great at knowing the answer right away but struggle to show the steps in between. We can help them see the different ways tou can figure out the “steps between the question and the answer”

This is something I can definitely use for the older kids! Thanks!

Great information! It is important for the students to learn and share many different strategies to solve problems.

Interesting concept. I plan to use

Good Video, I have seeing this method with my students in ED. They use different methods to come to the same answer in any way, math or just any daily life skills.

I love when kids are given the ability to think of things in different ways! Thinking outside the box will certainly be beneficial to them later in life for problem solving!

I like this. Absolutely. we want to build a robust understanding of Math and its foundation.

Absolutely, I could not agree more.

I wish this way of thinking and teaching had been around when I was in school. It actually makes sense!

Wish I would have known this while being taught Math in middle school, who knows, I might have loved math, instead of hating it! Thank you

Tammy S.

I can see how this will benefit students in solidifying their understanding of math problems, but with that said there are the students (autism students) that need the one straight forward technique of solving the problem to be successful.

Good video

This video is a great reminder that everyone looks at problems differently and we need to remember to do that with our kids we teach. That if they don’t understand how to do it to think outside the box and try a different ways until they do understand.

Love this idea!

Great short video with great advice on the different ways we can get our answers!!

This is great information to have, thank you

So simple yet so powerful.

Great Video! Thank you!

Great video! I think initially when asking students to come up with different ways of solving a problem it can be very daunting for many. Once you explore together you realize how we all see things differently and come up with ideas that someone else might not see. Some of the examples were so simple but not forms of the problem that my mind jumped to on its own!

Your site is absolutely incredible and I have been using it constantly with my summer math class. My students are really activated. Thank you!!!! Also, I know there’s been a lot of discussion/disagreement about teachers referring to multiplication as repeated addition. Many of my students come into may class (5th grade) with that misunderstanding. What is your best explanation to kids (and teachers) as to why referring to multiplication as repeated addition is a no-no?

I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad way to begin thinking about multiplication. The thing is that multiplication has more natural visualizations and meanings in different contexts. Repeated addition makes sense when you’re working with positive, whole numbers. But we need to reach for other ways to think about it as we push into fractions, negative numbers, and so on. Not only that, but having other meanings handy will often allow you to be more flexible, and choose the way to think about a problem that makes it less cluttered and more tractable. Still, I’d generally avoid saying “no –… Read more »

Thank you Dan, another fabulous idea without needing any resources. Great to open up the conversations in the home and extending the love of learning and working mathematically with parents. (for their children)