November Math Word Problem Goals!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about Math…and since I’m pretty much  Math Junkie, that’s a sad, sad thing in my book.  So, here’s what’s been happenin’ in math in Room 210 over the last few weeks!

We are continuing to focus on the Standards for Math Practice each week as our overarching goals.

We will continue to use these posters and anchor charts to guide our goals, objectives and instruction throughout the year.  We have still not introduced all 8 practices as we have spent more than one week on some.

Make Sense of the Problem

For example, the first math practice we introduced was #1: I can make sense of the problem and persevere in solving it. {You can read more about that HERE}.  We discussed unpacking then.  But just last week, we revisited this practice and brainstormed and added “all of the things that could happen to my set of stuff.”  Then, we dove deeper into this practice by not only unpacking the problem, but naming the action specifically.  This really set up a great background for the next week’s focus of math symbols!

If students can identify what is happening to a set, then they can begin to write equations or expressions to notate their thinking.  Understanding what happens to their set of stuff helps them identify which symbol accurately shows the action in the story problem.

Using Math Symbols

This is our symbols chart we used when we revisited practice #3 {construct viable arguments…}.  We talked about how mathematicians use equations and notation as their argument.  We added symbols ONLY as students began using them or knew to use them.  For example, as we shared and saw a friend use the + sign, we talked about what that meant and then added it to the chart.  And although students are able to naturally understand and think about math and numbers, symbols do not just naturally come to them without some help…just as speaking develops naturally, but reading has to be directly taught.

So, no….I didn’t have any kids that just “discovered” the multiplication sign.  But, NO, I did not stand up and tell my kids, “Today we are going to learn about the multiplication symbol.”  That means nothing to them either.  But I did have a few kids when we were solving multiplication problems that used a + sign instead of an x sign {3+5=15} so I was able to conference with them about whether or not 3 + 5 really did equal 15.  Some of them, will say, “But I just didn’t know what else to put there.”  And that’s where my role comes in.  I always say, “Mathematicians use this symbol when they are talking about groups of the same number.”  During math problem solving, I carry a colored pen with me so I can notate their thinking on their papers with a color pen that stands out.  That way I can see {and so can parents} when I’ve helped them notate their thinking.  Last year, I even had a sweetie who wrote his equation with a box where the symbol should go {Like 3 [ ] 5 = 15}.  When I conferenced with him, he said, “Well, I just couldn’t figure out what would go there, so I just put that box because I don’t know it and decided to wait until you could come help me!”  I loved that!!
I will be adding the division sign, I just haven’t had that come up yet.  Most of my higher thinkers are actually flipping their thinking into multiplication and using an x sign right now.  It will come…it always does…But I’m not pushing it, because I know that’s not helpful for kids anyways.

Looking for Structure

We also spent some time a while back on #7, looking for structure.  I like to focus on this one when we first start doing change unknown problems {unknown addend}.  Since it was the beginning of the year, we simplified this and just talked about which part of the story is missing, Beginning, Middle or End.  Later in the year, we will revisit this one and dig deeper….stay tuned on Facebook and BlogLovin.

And since you made it all the way to the end of my blog, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve just put out my November Math Mysteries packet…

Check it out HERE, or grab my Year Long Combo Pack and save too!

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