- Cultivate a class culture that values flexibility, exploration and
- Apply your normal literacy strategies to help students understand
what is being asked in the problem (read the problem aloud, paraphrase
the problem, check for understanding).
- Prompt students to talk about how the problem connects or relates
to what they have been learning in their other math work.
- When they are stuck, resist the urge to tell them what to do or
explain the problem over again. Instead, ask them leading questions
that get them to think about the problem in a different way. Better
yet, have them ask you a question about what they don't understand.
You'll learn more about what they do and don't understand and be able
to clarify any mistunderstandings more effectively. Often the process
of articulating the difficulty helps to clarify the student's own
thinking and leads to a breakthrough.
- Encourage estimation and discussion of what kind of answer to expect
before beginning to solve the problem.
- Make it clear to your students that the goal is to understand and
explain how they solved the problem, not simply find the final answer.
- Encourage students to find multiple methods for solving problems.
Confirming an answer through a different strategy increases one's
confidence that it is correct much more than repeating the same steps,
which may be flawed to begin with.
- Consider having students work in pairs so they can support each
other as they work toward solutions.
- Develop good math language throughout the day. A math word wall
can encourage children to use rich and precise math vocabulary in
- Model how to write an explanation. Ask a student to explain her/his
thoughts out loud. Record those steps on the board or on an overhead
as they speak.
- Build math writing skills in small steps. If the idea of revision
is built into an activity, and students realize they will have the
opportunity to improve, they will be more willing to take risks.
- Ask children not to erase errors and false starts on paper, but
to draw one line through them. There is much to be learned from what
- Have students read what their explanations aloud, possibly with
a partner. Prompt them to ask themselves or each other, "How
do I know that?" or "Why does that make sense?"
- Teach the scoring rubric. Have students apply it to their own work
and learn how to find evidence to support their scoring.
- If your students are going to submit their solutions online, have
them work out the problem first, then take their notes and calculations
to the computer to write their explanation.
- Encourage students to . . .
- look at our answer;
- leave a comment;
- read the response from their mentors;
- revise their solutions.
- Model good formatting using a projector. Include notation such as
asterisk (*) for multiplication, slash (/) for division, spacing,
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