## Tuesday, April 19, 2016

### The Evils of Scissors and Glue

Today my mathematicians worked on the concept of equal and unequal when it comes to 2D shapes. I perused the internet for ways my students could practice this concept, but I was mostly disappointed and reminded of how we need to be careful how we ask students to use their time.

If I want my mathematicians to look at shapes and identify whether they've been partitioned equally or unequally, then I'd best not instead ask them to spend their time cutting and glueing. A sheet divided in half, labeled equal and unequal with shapes at the bottom that need to be cut out, sorted, and glued on the page, is going to prevent mathematicians from quality time spent practicing the actual skill I need them to learn.

Here's how I handled their practice time. Each of my mathematicians was giving one shape, like in the examples below. They met up with others, identified their neighbor's shape as equal or unequal, swapped shapes, and visited someone else. This continued until I knew they had ample time to practice. Their final task was to write "equal" or "unequal" on the back of the last shape in their possession and give it to me. Voila.

I just think we need to be wary of allowing cutting, glueing, or some other random task from preventing what's truly most important from happening.

1. Laughing just a little, but you're right -- sometimes getting there takes longer than the "there", and is that what we really intended?
Sara

1. Sara, I read your comment and thought, "Why didn't I say it like that?" You took the words right out of my mouth and made them sound so much smarter!

2. As always, I agree. But when I was teaching first grade (and even now a little with third) we did a moderate amount of cutting and gluing. Because I felt it was necessary for fine motor skills. I always tried to make it useful cutting and gluing. Where the purpose was c and g, but also something else, like sorting, or classifying, or whatever. And sometimes it closed those little mouths long enough to give me time to do a reading group.

I really value your opinion as an educator. What is your opinion on my use of cutting and gluing, knowing the very little I just told you about my use of it?
Ann

1. Ann, thank you for feeling free to share your thoughts and experiences here. I agree that fine motor skills need attention too. Art seems like the most meaningful way to practice those skills, but in moderation, as streamlined as possible, there's bound to be a bit of cutting and glueing elsewhere in the curriculum. :)

3. Yup, I had a chuckle too :). Sometimes I'm like Ann though and I'll let them cut and glue something so I can work with a small group. Plus I remember how much I liked to do that when I was young.

Your point is a good one though!

1. Barb, some kids do enjoy the evils of cutting and glueing, don't they? :)

4. Well, you know I agree with this one! :) As well as maybe shifting the focus of the learning for them, I also think they retain the skills better if they are actually given a way to apply it-like the lesson in your example did.

1. Miss Trayers, I'm not surprised you agree!

5. I like your math activity that replaced the cutting and gluing. Promoted lots of conversations between students. And no mess too! :)

1. Lori, oh yes. Good point about the mess. :)