Sharon, a fourth grader, was trying to solve a multiplication word problem: “A science lab has 37 ants. Students observed that each ant has 6 legs. How many legs do the ants have altogether?” She tried to recall the formal algorithm for multiplication. Setting up a table by 7s, she said, “Seven times six is 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42. Forty-two, put down two and carry four. Four plus three is seven. Seven times six is 42. So the answer is 422” (see fig. 1).
Jae Meen Baek conducts research on children's mathematical thinking and works with teachers to improve mathematics instruction based on children's thinking.
Edited by Alfinio Flores, firstname.lastname@example.org, Arizona State University Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Tempe, AZ 85287-0911. This department describes research and demonstrates its importance to practicing classroom teachers. Readers are encouraged to send manuscripts appropriate for this section by accessing tcm.msubmit.net.