Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Teaching Math with Minecraft #2: Understanding Addition, Multiplication, and the Commutative Property

In a previous post, we ran an impromptu learning experiment using Minecraft to explore different kinds of numbers (even, odd, prime, and square). 

That first video prompted a number of very interesting conversations.  One question that many adults ask is, "elementary arithmetic is so simple, what is there to really understand beyond memorizing a bunch of math facts?" 

Actually, there's an awful lot to understand. Memorizing math facts develops fluency, which is important.  But conceptual understanding is altogether different - and equally important. 

In an effort to give a concrete example of what "understanding" looks like and how it is different from memorizing facts, I invited Swifty7777 back for a second conversation.

In this episode, we dig in to some more advanced topics in arithmetic:
  • What is addition?
  • What is multiplication?
  • What is the relationship between addition and multiplication?
  • What is the commutative property of addition?  Of multiplication?
  • How is commutativity similar and different for addition and multiplication?

What reactions, questions, or insights does this video generate for you? 

If you liked this "learning with Minecraft" video, check out these others:
Minecraft Math #1: Numbers - Even, Odd, Prime & Square Root
Minecraft Scientists Ep. #1: Fishin' In The Rain