It helps students to build new mathematical knowledge.
It encourages making connections with other mathematical
ideas as well as with contexts outside of mathematics.
It encourages students to try different approaches.
They will learn how to get started on a challenging problem and
develop strategies for making progress when they are stuck.
Having a different audience to write for is very
motivating to children.
It provides opportunities to develop literacy skills.
It creates an opportunity for your students to reflect
on the problem solving process.
Collecting student work through submissions to the
PoW will enable everyone to examine,
learn from, discuss, and prepare teaching strategies
for the students.
It helps prepare your students for the open-ended
problem solving on tests.
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
to what they have been learning in their other math work
Encourage estimation and discussion of what kind
of answer to expect before beginning to solve the problem.
Cultivate a class culture that values flexibility,
exploration and risk taking.
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.
Teach the scoring rubric. Have students apply it
to their own work and learn how to find evidence to support their
Consider having students work in pairs so they can
support each other as they work toward solutions.
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.
Develop good math language throughout the day. A
math word wall can encourage children to use rich and precise math
vocabulary in their writing.
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.
Have students read what they wrote (possibly aloud
to each other), and after each sentence ask a question. "How
do I know that" or "Why does that make sense?"
Like any curriculum, build math writing and communication
in small steps. If the idea of "revision" is built into
the activity, it will help your students realize that they have
the opportunity to improve.
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 read the response from their
mentors and revise their solutions.
Model good formatting using a projector. Include
notation such as asterisk (*) for multiplication, slash (/) for
division, spacing, etc.
Ask children not to erase errors and false starts,
but to draw one line through them. There is much to be learned from
what doesn't work!