From the Author…

I have used the MOVE IT Math combining/separating method of teaching arithmetic word problems for five years. Recently, while standing with one of my students in the cafeteria line at the school where I teach, I observed her watching intently as the cafeteria worker ladled green peas onto my tray. “Ms. Martin!” she said. “She’s ‘just’ separating the peas from that pot!” Another student of mine, a third grader, asked me how far I lived from school. “About 30 miles,” I said. Being a naturally inquisitive child, he went on, “How long would it take you to walk to school?” “A slow walk is about two miles per hour,” I replied. “You figure out how long it would take.” He thought a bit and said, “This is separating…and it’s neat…15 hours.” I was so pleased! He was also able to tell me how long it would take if we walked faster: 3, 5 or 6 miles per hour!!! To this student, division is much more than “gazinta” (goes into): “Two gazinta 30 fifteen times.” When you see students apply in daily living what’s learned in class, you know internalization is taking place.

The Separaters may be read to elementary school students as naive as preschoolers and as “sophisticated” as ninth graders. All that has to be adjusted is the amount of participation required of the students. Have children pantomime and discuss Nic’s and Scrap’s actions to stress the “just” separating and separating “neatly” going on. Have them pantomime and discuss the related “just” combining and combining “neatly,” too. You may want to read only the story the first time through and then read it again for the pantomiming and discussions.

The questions on each page draw out the mathematics in what’s happening on that page and are primarily for grades 3-6. The story is complete without the questions, so a teacher may choose to ask only some, or perhaps none, of the questions depending on the maturity of their students. A teacher may also make up their own questions to go with the story.

You may want to make transparencies of some of the pictures. After solving the problems that go with some of the pictures, students can create additional problems to go with the pictures and share them with their class, other classes in their school or pen pals at another school. Have them color the pictures, thus focusing their attention even more on what’s happening in the pictures and/or write a new story about the pictures.

Please look in the back of the book for other activities related to The Separaters and use your creativeness to design and tailor them to your students.

Susan Martin

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Story about separating into any amounts and equal amounts