Making Sense of Story Problems

by Deborah Peart, Grade 2 Lead

Many people have an aversion to word problems. They cringe at the mention of them. In elementary classrooms, teachers often report that this is what their students struggle with most. When word problems show up in math class, even students who enjoy reading will release a sigh and let their shoulders droop. “Do words even belong in math class?” they wonder. The answer is yes, they do! But students need guidance in how to make sense of story problems because in many classrooms they are taught to compartmentalize their learning in math class. While students are often encouraged to integrate social studies and language arts, mathematics is more frequently taught in isolation. In order for students to see math in the world around them, we must consider all the ways in which we can bring mathematics to life through stories.

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English Learners and Distance Learning: Co-Craft Questions

By Jennifer Wilson and Liz Ramirez

We envision creating a world where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. Knowing and using math goes beyond calculating and evaluating. We create purposeful opportunities for students to engage in sense-making and use language to negotiate meaning with their peers. This calls for a language-rich environment where there’s space for all students to participate in argumentation and explanation.

What do these conversations look like now that we are no longer sharing physical space together? And how do we support our multilingual students who are gaining proficiency with English?

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Building a Math Community with IM K–5 Math

“I’m not sure this is working. Only five of my students are participating and commenting each day. The rest sit there and look at me.”

By Tabitha Eutsler

This was my conversation with our math coordinator after my first few days of teaching IM K–5 MathTM with my third graders. Those five students were having great conversations. However, my other students just sat there wide-eyed, silent, and staring blankly at their papers. I felt lost. Was this the best for my students? Could we survive a whole year of math like this? I wanted my students to love math and have a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. How would this get them there? 

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Using Instructional Routines to Inspire Deep Thinking

We want students to think about math deeply. Creatively. Analytically. Instead, what often happens is that students race towards quick solutions. So what can we do to support this other kind of thinking in class—the slow, deep kind?

By Jenna Laib

One way is through instructional routines like “Which One Doesn’t Belong” and “Notice and Wonder.” These routines give structure to time and interactions. Within the structure, there are opportunities to have time to think deeply and a predictable way to share and deepen thinking with partners and the whole class. 

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First Impressions: The First Units in IM K–5 Math

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

― Maya Angelou 

By Kristin Gray

When I think back to my 8th grade math class, I cannot recall the exact problems I struggled with or exact things the teacher said or did, but I can distinctly remember how I felt each day walking into that classroom: anxious. From the very first day of school, I struggled, and my feelings of failure and self-doubt only compounded as the year progressed. I just could not keep up. While many, many years have passed, and details have faded from my memory, I have never forgotten how badly I felt about myself as a learner of mathematics each day.  

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Fraction & Decimal Number Lines

By Kristin Gray

Recently, our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers had the opportunity to chat math for 2 hours during a Learning Lab held on a professional development day. It was the first time we had done a vertical lab and it felt like perfect timing as 3rd and 4th grade would soon be starting their fraction unit and 5th would be entering their decimal unit. Prior to the meeting, we read the NCTM article, “Identify Fractions and Decimals on a Number Line” by Meghan Shaughnessy, so we started the meeting discussing ideas in the article. We then jumped into playing around with clothesline number lines and double number lines, discussing what they could look like at each grade level based on where students are in the fractional thinking. Continue reading “Fraction & Decimal Number Lines”