# Topic | MUS blocks and multiplication – ???

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 22 total)
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• missceegee
Participant

I just cannot wrap my head around this! I gave up with oldest dd last year and showed her the way I’d been taught. Today was lesson 23 of Gamma for ds9 on double digit multiplication. I watched video with him, twice and caught on, sort of. Then I had to find the factors from just the blocks. I did it bc I knew how many blocks but it was completely unnatural for me. Then came a problem like 12 x 20 and while I instantly know the answer and how to do it my way, I don’t know what to do with the blocks. I think I’m block challenged after subtraction or 1 x 2 digit multiplication. I just don’t get it and it seems overly cumbersome. DS could do it in his head or my way with no issue, but the blocks throw him for a loop too. Ideas? Thoughts? Chunk the blocks? I get that Mr. Demme is teaching hows and whys, but it makes no sense when my old school way makes perfect sense.

my3boys
Participant

My ds is on this lesson as well, but is a bit older than yours (would’ve never attempted this at your ds age).  We used a different program (spiral) before MUS and at some point over a year ago, maybe 2, I realized that math had too much going on (order of operation took awhile to figure out) and he is easily overwhelmed.  The mastery approach works for him.  Not saying your ds is having any issues, of course.

I have had a great time, even “a-ha” moments (like with other programs, I’m sure) with the blocks and double-digit multiplication (and I have never had issues before, all my facts are memorized!).  I use the blocks with him on almost every problem and then we work it out the “old school” way.  And, we talk about the what is really being multiplied, not just the digits but their place value.  I’ll have to do this for awhile with him, but that’s okay 🙂

I do love using the blocks for him to “see” the answer by just looking, not counting, and for him to “see” how much the sum really is even when the digits are on the low-end (1, 2, 3, etc.).

I’ll go look at the last lesson and try to remember what made the blocks so helpful.  Obviously it could be just my ds who needs the visual and full-on explanation, every time, and that’s why it works and we use them. Your ds could be just the opposite and they’re of no use.  I don’t really know about that.

HTH

Bookworm
Participant

DO IT.  When you get to factoring polynomials you will be so glad you did.  You need the basic understanding of factoring now while it’s nice and concrete before tossing variables into the mix.  It’s there for a reason–and that reason is at least as much for what happens in algebra as for what is happening now.

missceegee
Participant

I can factor, my kids can factor! (not polynomials at this point, of course) I just don’t get doing it with blocks. I have read the book, watched the video multiple times and I still bumble the blocks like an idiot. Perhaps it would help my block-blocked brain to see more video examples, like 20 or more. Twice now, I’ve gotten to this point and said to myself, “This is important or it wouldn’t be here,” but dad gum it, I just cannot wrap my brain around what to do with the blocks anymore.

Do you know of any online video samples that give me lots more problems?

Signed,

Sue
Participant

I see what you’re saying, Bookworm. My dd is struggling with algebra, and I realized that she has a really hard time factoring. I even had her work on refreshing her memory with her times tables yesterday.

However, we have not used Gamma with any of our kids, being new to MUS last year, so I’m not sure how he demonstrates factoring with the blocks. I’ll have to see if I can find some examples online or someone who has the book/dvd for me to peek at.

missceegee
Participant

So far I found this non MUS video, but the way it is set up makes a bit more sense to my brain. We will see how it goes today.

http://youtu.be/mjYYbwuued0

missceegee
Participant

Another question – if anyone has any ipad apps or mac osx apps that allow full manipulation of the blocks, please share. I’m trying some myself at the moment. I’m beginning to hate MUS blocks like I hate legos. They don’t agree with my bare feet when a random one is left out by mistake!

missceegee
Participant

This makes so much more sense to me for some reason.

missceegee
Participant

I just did a lesson with both older kids on setting up the blocks in an array like the above videos and we had aha! I laid out the product in blocks and they found the factors easily. I laid out the factors and they fit in the product blocks like for area easily. This makes perfect sense to my brain and theirs. Somehow how Mr. Demme explains and shows it, I just don’t get it. My dd12 wanted me to do 3 digit numbers but I don’t have enough blocks for that.

Bookworm – is this sufficient or is there something about the layout on the MUS video that I should contine to work my brain around?

Bookworm
Participant

Well, if anything, I think these are harder to understand than the mus ones.  Not to mention the lady on the second one doing my pet peeve of saying “lenth” and “with”    LOL

OK.  This is relatively OK, but you are going to run into one problem.  They aren’t set up in problem format.  The way MUS does it, you can see its relationship to the written problem much, much easier.  IN fact, when you get to division, you are going to need to be able to do the blocks, deconstructing the blocks into problem format as you go as a check of the problem.   I really think it’ll be easier to see the transition if you set the blocks up the “MUS block way” so that when you are doing this in division, you can check your problems as you go.  ALSO, I think this method makes algebraic factoring MUCH EASIER and more visible.  It won’t be all that long before you are needing to do “3x + 6”  times “2x+4”.  The point here is that ALL multiplication problems make a rectangle, and you can figure out the area of the rectangle by the factors/sides, and this is true even if there is a variable, and you can also figure out one factor given the area and another factor.  Our written problems really are just an abstract way of showing what is really happening–WHICH IS A RECTANGLE.  The rectangle is the real thing, the way we write the problem and answer is NOT–it’s just abstract symbols representing the real thing–which is the rectangle.

missceegee
Participant

Michele, is there any possible way you could use a smart phone or something and email me some videos of your family doing this. I seriously cannot get it from the few examples on the MUS video. I want to get it, but I need something new to show me.

my3boys
Participant

I think what Bookworm mentioned is what I was able to show my ds who struggles with the abstract number problems and now he can “see” that there is much more going on.  The rectangle is what I noticed when my ds and I were working on this…and when he was trying to do something completely wrong, it is was easier for me to show him how it just wasn’t going to work.  He wasn’t “showing” 12, 10 times (or vice versa, if you turn the rectangle). He was grabbing a 10 bar and a 10 bar + 2 bar.  Okay, well we have the factors, but that is not showing what the written numbers represent.  I told him I need to see 12, 10 times.  That forced him to keep building 12’s until he had ten of them.  Now at first he didn’t think to use a 100 block, so it wasn’t as easy to “see” the answer, but we discussed how if you have 10 ten bars you really have 100, so you can substitute the 10, 10’s for a 100 bar.  He did that and saw very quickly what the answer was.  We still did the work on multiplying it out and we did come up with the same answer.  I just really have to show him how much/many we are really dealing with and not just the abstract of the digits shown.

Hope that makes sense. I am not a math-y person, but I understood these concepts that my ds struggles with at a much earlier age, so it’s difficult for me that he doesn’t get it.  My dh was the same way in elementary/high school and he was not given the opportunity to learn using manipulatives or any other kind of help.  He was left to flounder and had behaviorial issues because of it.  I don’t want my ds in the same perdicament, so I’m really trying to help him.

missceegee
Participant

Thank you for trying but I REALLY need to see a bunch of examples worked. I’m sure ill get it eventually. Maybe when my 3 yo graduates.

my3boys
Participant

Well, after looking at the lesson in the teacher’s guide, again, I think I see that he is showing is that all the factors have to be accounted for.  I’m going to have re-look at this myself so that I don’t confuse my already confused ds and make sure I am understanding why certain blocks are in certain places (I know it’s for place value purposes, but we don’t really think about that being the reason when we are paying our bills, LOL).  MUS is teaching this concept a bit differently than I learned, I think, but I’m sure it is to a benefit. I think this is where place value is going to be so important for my ds.

This is very interesting to me and I’m glad you brought it up.

danaholt
Participant

Missceegee, you aren’t the only one that is struggling with this!  My son has finished Gamma and Delta and we did it the traditional way because I just couldn’t get it.  After reading these posts, I think I’ll need to go back and study some more and see if we can figure things out.  I really don’t want to get to Algebra and struggle.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 22 total)
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