As a guest of Mr. Joseph Reo in his fifth grade classroom at Bluford Universal Charter School in Philadelphia, Suzanne Alejandre presented Wooden Legs, a problem at the Math Fundamentals level from the Math Forum’s Problems of the Week (PoWs). Suzanne first presents just the “scenario” which means that the question has been removed. The advantage of this is that it levels the playing field — students who would not normally get engaged and would claim “I don’t know how to do this!” realize that they can participate and students who would race to find the answer find that they should slow down a little because there is no question!
The “Notice/Wonder” strategy illustrated in these videos is an activity designed to help students develop and strengthen CCSS Mathematical Practice #1, Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. ["Mathematically proficient students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution."]
Provided here are freely accessible* links to Wooden Legs teacher resources:
handout or display
Math Fundamentals PoW Packet [pdf]
CCSSM alignment, possible solutions, teaching suggestions, student solutions from our archive, copy-ready handout, problem-specific rubric
Understanding the Problem [pdf]
problem solving and communication activities, student handouts for the described activities
- Overview: Wooden Legs Scenario
- Suzanne explains using the Wooden Legs Scenario in a 5th grade classroom.
- What Did You Hear?
- Suzanne reads aloud the Wooden Legs Scenario.
- Listening “to” Students
- After asking “what did you hear?” Suzanne listens to the students’ responses.
- Connecting to Students’ Experiences
- This clip models helping students connect the story to their own surroundings.
- Revealing the Question
- This clip models moving from whole class to group work.
- Groups at Work
- This clip show groups of students working together on the problem with manipulatives.
- Next Steps
- This clip models moving from group work to explaining online submissions.
- Submitting Online
- This clips models students submitting their answers and explanations online.
- Students’ Opinions
- Suzanne interviews three students about the Wooden Legs session.
- Full Video
- All of the individual clips listed above are combined into one 25 minute video.
* These free resources are drawn from the Math Forum’s Problems of the Week program which otherwise requires a subscription. Resources are available at all levels from counting and arithmetic through calculus. See this page for more information.