When a teacher challenges students using cryptograms and technology to learn math, it stimulates their natural drive for problem solving.  At Cherry Lane Elementary School in Suffern NY, each challenge that third graders face in Dr. Corey Malandra’s class immerses the students in the total experience as they try to beat the clock, and solve the problem before time is up.

Students Using Cryptograms and Technology to Learn MathOne of the challenges had students skip count by four to get the letters for solving a cryptogram. Once solved, some children found a key that opened a locked box where they found their next assignments.

In challenge number one, students had to ‘skip count by fours’ in order to get the letters to solve a cryptogram. Skip counting is counting by numbers other than one and sets the stage for learning multiplication facts. Once the cryptogram was solved, some children walked over to a wall map showing the Continent of Africa, on which they found a key to open a locked box which contained items that would initiate their assignments.

According to Dr. Malandra, “Students can more readily develop an understanding of multiplication concepts, if they see visual representations of the calculation process. For example, they can picture students in a marching band arranged in equal rows or chairs set up in rows in an auditorium. These arrangements or patterns all have something in common; they are in rows and columns. An arrangement of numbers in rows and columns is called an array.”

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