Thursday, March 14, 2013

Math Problem Solving (Freebie)- Mega Post!

A big focus in my math program this term has become problem solving. As we continue to work through the different strands outlined in our curriculum we are looking at and working on how to better understand problems, solve problems and talk about the strategies we've chosen to solve problems.

We started by creating this anchor chart step by step together. As we "mastered" (hmmmm?) each step we moved on to the next and added more to our anchor chart. 

Each morning when my students enter the room they have a math problem to complete independently in their problem solving books. This has replaced our math stretch time. In the beginning of the year, we met on the carpet every morning and completed a math stretch orally as a group. We still do this about once (maybe twice) a week, but the focus has moved to independent problem solving using the 4 steps outlined above and a variety of problems.

In Ontario, Grade 3's are required to write a standardize test in the spring and they will need to have a wide range of problem solving skills at their disposal. 
Now that most of my students have improved in their basic problem solving skills we are moving towards improving their communication skills in math. This was determined as a greatest area of need by my grade team and we will be focusing on this skill over the next weeks as a professional learning community.

Since my class had already begun working in this area I needed to change the team plan just a little. My class started by co-creating this anchor chart to show the difference between "Show Your Work" and "Explain Your Thinking" in math.

I was super impressed...both of the success criteria on the Show Your Work side were volunteered by my students and it's in their own words. 

They are listening!!! (LOL)

From here I modelled what Explain Your Thinking would look like using a math huddle focused on division. 

Minds on activity

Lesson Problem- We have been looking at division problems- by grouping and by sharing. As you will see in the sample problem, it is the same problem just asked in a different way!

The board ready for their work!

Here's the updated Minds On and Lesson Problem. I have been modelling how to underline, highlight or circle the key words in the problem and then choose a strategy that works best for the question. 

This is normally where I display student work after they have had a chance to solve the problem with a peer. For this math huddle, however, I wanted to focus less on the strategy chosen to solve and more on the communication delivered by the response. So for this math huddle we worked through the problem together and I modelled how a student could display their knowledge of division/multiplication and communicate their thinking about the problem. 

And we did complete the anchor chart pictured above...but in my rush to start Spring Break(!!) I forgot to take a picture. So I made it into a poster for you instead! Click on the image to get your copy.'s the freebie! This is a problem solving mat that can be used to solve any problem. It's designed to help students move through the steps and communicate their knowledge as much as possible.  I found the original here when I was researching online. I basically just typed it up without too many was so good it didn't need very much!

I hope you find it useful too and if you download it, please visit the original site and leave your thanks there!!

And that's that...we are going to continue working away on different types of problems. I will be back soon (I hope) with some students examples and a checbric for you to assess student problem solving. 

Here is a great link for math manipulatives. 

2 Brilliant Teaching Thoughts:

Ms.M from Teachingisagift said...

Great minds think alike. Come and read my post at

Cindy said...

Nice! Thanks for posting this on Math Monday Blog Hop. I'm thinking you need a bigger chalkboard! :)

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