My class is working on adding and subtracting within 100, using place value and operations of addition and subtraction. We'll move to "within 1,000" at the beginning of November. My main objective has been on having the students be able to analyze, solve, explain and defend their answers to word problems, using the following steps:
1. What information does the problem tell us?
2. What information does the problem ask us?
3. Will your answer be given in words or numerals? How do you know?
4. What operation will we use to solve the problem?
5. What strategies can we use to solve the problem?
(writing equations, counting on, counting back, using a number line, using a hundreds
chart, using manipulatives, regrouping, drawing pictures, acting out the problems, making
6. Solve the problem with one strategy, then use a different strategy to solve the same
7. Check your work 4 ways:
Is your answer reasonable?
Did you get the same answer both times you solved it?
Use the reverse operation to check your answer.
Are all your numbers written correctly (not backwards)?
8. Explain, orally, or in writing, the step-by-step processes you used to solve the problem.
I have some very brainy second graders, who can mentally solve addition and subtraction problems, with regrouping, in about two seconds flat! I've had to tell them every day, "I don't CARE what the answer is! I want to know HOW you figured it out." Of course, those brainiacs who truly are using mental math have a really hard time describing their process, but the students who need to work to get to the answers have just as hard a time. So, this week, I told everyone, "I'm not teaching math right now. I'm teaching writing. Here's what I want you to be able to do:
- Write a story problem to fit a given equation
- Write a detailed description of how you solved mathematical problems"
Jaws dropped. Silence occurred for maybe the first time all year. I thought to myself, I have finally made a breakthrough! I jumped on that chance to make an anchor chart, but didn't have my phone, so I've recreated it (sort of) in publisher, so you'll have an idea of what we did.
Next, I whipped up a "Halloween Math Problems...what will we do?" mini unit. We began working these problems with the process, NOT the end, in mind, and even my most reluctant writers (usually my best mathematicians) began to LOVE writing time, because, of course, they could choose to write about...MATH!