Saturday, July 21, 2012

Making Math Thinkers

In math, one of the big tenants of Common Core is that the students understand the process of what is going on.  It is not enough that they can "do" math, but they have to be able to "explain" math.  This is no easy task indeed.  Students just aren't used to verbally explain themselves during math.  5 + 5 is 10 and that is it. 

Something I have done in my class to get the students thinking about process instead of just answer are "Two Problems".   This is just as it says, two problems.  Two open ended problems to be exact.  You can see in the thumbnail that they are NOT fancy at all.  That is the point.  It is clear cut for the students so that they are focused on the task at hand.  The idea is that the students are EXPLAINING themselves, not just solving for the correct answer.

Teaching in Room 6The general guidelines of Two Problems are:
*  Both problems are presented on the same page.
*  The are ready for the kids to start immediately.
*  This is a quick "lesson".  It is not dragged out to infinitum. ;)
*  Can be read aloud to give access to math vocab and content.
*  Should be algined to the grade level standards.
*  MUST be debriefed

I follow the 5-10-15 minute approach during my math period when using Two Problems.  
5 minutes of independent work.  Students must try and solve the problem alone, circling key words, figuring it all out, explaining the answers.
10 minutes of partner work.  Students are then allowed to work with their table partner.  This is also when I am walking around, listening to them discuss the math and ask guiding questions.
15 minutes of debrief.  While I am walking around, I pick up two or three sample pages that I want to share on the board.  There are NO NAMES on the papers, so when I put them up on the doc cam, the kids don't know who they came from.  (we call this Anonymous Sharing)  During this debrief, I am asking the kids to tell me what they see mathematically on the papers.  How is the second paper different than the first?  What strategies did the person use to solve the problem?

When choosing papers, I tend to find papers that are correct and use different strategies.  The point of the anonymous sharing is not to see that the person got the final answer, but walk through the process of HOW that person did it.   THIS is the most important and successful part of the Two Problems.  When the students can discuss the process of math, it is much more internal than just doing rote memorization of rules.  This is where math thinkers are made in my class.  This is why I love Two Problems so much.

Come on over to my blog to pick up some free Two Problems (5th grade) to use in your room.  If you are not teaching 5th grade, use them as a guideline to create your own Two Problem sheets.  See you soon!


Lia Amelia said...

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