Baking Blackberries is a Pre-Algebra Problem of the Week that just went into “preview” in our Current Problems today. As I was preparing things (writing the Teacher Packet with CCSS Standards alignment, possible solutions, student solutions, etc. and the other resources that are linked from the “blue box”) I came across Annie’s “real-life” solution that she had included in her comments when the problem first ran in 2007. I love how she described what she really did in the kitchen to decide which pan to use! I included it as one of the solutions in the Packet, Method 2: Annie’s “Hand” Estimation.
This morning I was thinking about how teachers might use that resource. I know that I would want to have them see/read Annie’s solution. Do you share it after students have worked the problem probably using straight-forward math including formulas for area? Do you share it before?
And then it suddenly occurred to me — sometimes (particularly as you’re developing students’ problem solving habits) why not use the “Our Solutions” section of the Teacher Packet and ask them to make sense of the solution we present? Here is how I thought I would use Annie’s “Hand” Estimation:

Display the two paragraphs.

• Ask “What do you notice?”
• (my guess is that many students don’t have cooking experience and there could be a lot of wonderings at the same time)
• Interesting would be to see if students could then craft a math problem out of what Annie did.
• Interesting would be to show students the problem and have conversations about how they might do it.

Another idea instead of displaying the two paragraphs would be to say, “I’m going to read you a story.” Read the first paragraph and ask “What did you hear?” Read the second paragraph and ask “What did you hear?” And then, perhaps display the two paragraphs to do a “Noticing/Wondering” activity.

If you try this idea of using either student solutions or our solutions from the Packet, please leave a comment to tell your story. What did you notice as your worked with your students? What did you wonder?

Some “Baking Blackberries” links in case you are interested: