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.

Continue reading “Making Sense of Story Problems”

Learning through Teaching

By William McCallum

I was in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago visiting a school using IM 6–8 Math and was inspired by the efforts the school was making to implement problem-based instruction. I saw teachers at different stages on a learning curve with the instructional routines in the curriculum and realized how important it was to have a learning curve, and not a learning cliff, for teachers to grow into this way of teaching. We have tried to achieve this in many ways in our curriculum.

Continue reading “Learning through Teaching”

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. 

Continue reading “Using Instructional Routines to Inspire Deep Thinking”

Inviting Students to the Mathematics

How do we invite students to the mathematics, and explicitly signal to kids that they have ideas that matter in math class?

By Max Ray-Riek

In this series of blog posts, the first of which is available here, we’re exploring how, in order to be successful in a problem-based classroom, students have to shift their thinking about what being a good math student looks and sounds like. What do you notice about your own students’ beliefs about how they should participate? What are you curious about now, as you think about what it takes for students to be successful in a problem-based classroom?

Continue reading “Inviting Students to the Mathematics”

What is an instructional routine?

By William McCallum and Kate Nowak

People use routines for all kinds of things. Routines give structure to time and interactions. People like structure. When a child comes home from school, there might be a routine. She expects a snack, homework time, play time, dinner, some television, a bath, pajamas, a book, and to get tucked into bed. She might have responsibilities, like setting the table for dinner, and engage in predictable dialog along the way, like sharing something that happened at school. She might expect her father to sing her a song. (Over and over and over again, in the case of my daughters—Bill.) The routine makes her comfortable and makes necessary chores go smoothly. Continue reading “What is an instructional routine?”