In Grade 7, simple mathematical operations are not often a focus of instruction. If they are, it is in relation to operations with decimal numbers. Extending addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division processes to decimal numbers does not seem like a difficult task to the math savvy person, but we came upon some roadblocks when covering this topic.
Reviewing the purposes and processes of multiplication and division was essential, as some students still held misconceptions, or had simply internalized the process for a correct answer, without realizing the key ideas of the process.
As a learning strategies topic, I worked with a smaller group of students who require additional instruction and practice on these concepts. At the same time, the remainder of the students were given an enrichment activity. Both groups were focusing on accessing, testing, and explaining alternative methods of multiplication. Ultimately, we wanted all students to possess a personal understanding of the 'simple' processes they had learned in younger grades.
The students in the enrichment group were to find a method that made personal sense to them. We spoke about the best way to show learning: teaching. Students were to produce a video where they teach their method and explain its significance. Meanwhile, the students that required additional instruction were exploring the grid method of multiplication, which utilizes place value concepts. After the lessons, I was very excited to hear a couple students exclaim, "I didn't really get it before, but now it makes sense!" I even had a couple students that spent the evening doing additional practice because they thought it was fun!
Students enjoyed the activity because they were introduced to new ways of thinking, and it allowed choice in the methods they explored and presented. It forced the students to think about what the numbers actually mean, and how the process works.