There are many ways to teach problem solving to elementary students. Most students are successful with a well structured problem solving plan. However, we all have at least a few students who just don’t “get it” with regular classroom lessons. Working one on one or in small groups and applying well planned interventions helps these students find success. Last week I shared my first three top tips and today I am sharing the next three tips:
Some students understand the questions just fine, but have trouble seeing the big picture, the story or the scenario. These students need extra help laying out the details. Most students will benefit from instruction in drawing pictures or making diagrams, and struggling students will especially need to practice with this. I like to teach my students how to make part-part-whole and whole-part-part models.
We will discuss each clue and label it as a part or the whole and then work from there. Strip diagrams and unit bars work well too. I also like to encourage students to make actual pictures of the clues. I am no artist and the kids like to laugh at my drawings with me!
This is so important for students who have trouble visualizing the actions in the problem. An example could be using this problem below with Martina and her purse. I will get play money out and we will actually act out the story with the play money. Another example could be to use colored counters with the apple story below. Now there are some big numbers so you could use smaller numbers to practice acting it out and then transfer the actions to your paper with the larger numbers.
Sometimes students get caught up by the big numbers and can’t focus on the actions in the problem. For these students you can cross out the big numbers, substitute with smaller numbers and have them solve. Then apply the actions to the bigger numbers. If needed, use manipulatives to help build understanding.
Missed Part 1 from last week? Find it here:
It is that time of year again! Time for jelly beans, eggs, bunnies and baskets! There are so many ways to use Easter excitement to keep your students engaged in classroom lessons. Here are some of my favorites from around the web:
One of my favorite activities this time of year is a Math Egg Hunt! Buy a bunch of plastic eggs and stick problems inside the eggs. Hide the eggs around the room. Give your students a record sheet or a piece of notebook paper and let them hunt and solve math problems. Print your own problems or get mine FREE here.
As I have mentioned in previous posts about fractions, starting with hands on and pictorial activities is vital for helping primary intermediate level students understand fractions. Today I would like to share my top 5 tips for decomposing fractions. These are mainly focused on 3rd – 5th grade, but may be helpful for some older and younger students as well.
1.) I love using my pizza game for hands on fractions! If you don’t have a pizza game, you can use plastic fraction circles or make pizza fractions from paper plates. Show your students a fraction of a pizza such as 5/6. After guided them to name the fraction, show them one way to decompose it by giving 2/6 to one student and 3/6 to another student. Point out that 2/6 + 3/6 is a way to decompose 5/6 and ask if they can name any other ways. Act out other representations such as 2/6 + 1/6 + 2/6 by giving those slices to other students. Try this with several different students.
2.) Give students color tiles or unifix cubes. Give specific directions such as make a rectangle with 3 red, 2 blue and 7 yellow. What fraction of your tiles are not yellow? (5/12) Move the red and blue apart a little to show how 5/12 can also be represented as 3/12 + 2/12. Do this with a few other fractions as well.
3.) Give students pictures of fractions and have them cut them up to show ways to decompose the fraction.
4.) Coloring Practice – Give students pictures of fractions with nothing shaded. Give them directions on what color to color different parts. Then guide them to write number sentences to decompose the fractions.
5.) Play Games! Make your own games to practice decomposing fractions or try one of the games I have available on my TpT page.
Understanding place value is an important Math skill for elementary students. One of the objectives is for students to describe the relationship between places in a base ten system. Although this may seem difficult at first, starting with concrete manipulatives can really help students gain a deeper understanding.
I like to start by letting students “play” with the blocks for a few minutes. Then I will ask specific questions and have them use the blocks to work out answers. One such example is “How many ones do you need to equal a ten?” or “How many tens can you use to make one hundred?” Give students time to work together or independently with the blocks to answer the question, then discuss. I also like to write the questions/answers on the board or have a record sheet for them to work along with. Continue reading
Have you ever had a student who seemed to understand place value initially, but then when questions were asked just a little differently couldn’t really answer correctly? Younger students need a lot of hands on practice and a lot of discussions before moving on to pictorial and abstract. What about middle and upper elementary? As the learning targets get higher and the numbers get bigger, most students need to revisit basic place value concepts with hands on experiences and discussions to build or review understanding before moving on to bigger numbers. Continue reading