## Wednesday, December 17, 2014

### Just Right Problems

I hope Tara from The Math Maniac doesn't mind that I'm piggybacking one of her recent posts about problem solving.
She recently said, "If you don't see a range of strategies, these problems might be too hard or too easy for your students."  What an excellent reminder for those times when most everyone in the room solves a problem the same way.  I agree that there should be a range, although I'll admit I don't always see it.  Today I did, which says something about the problem I gave them.

8 reindeer pull Santa's sleigh.  Each reindeer has 2 antlers.  How many antlers are there altogether?

While the kids were solving the problem in their journals, I purposefully sought out a range of solutions and sent those particular mathematicians to the board to reproduce their strategies.  When it was time for our four math teachers to share, I purposefully chose the order they would share.  Look at them below and you'll see the progression.

The kids delivered today.  Isn't it amazing how much better they deliver when I have my act together?  The problems we choose are key.

By the way, Tara is a great resource for all things elementary math.  Go check her out.

1. Great problem and great range of solutions! I love when you teach intentionally and things turn out the way you intended!

Tara
The Math Maniac

1. Tara, thanks for the great reminders on your site!

2. But I really like the cute antler pictures :)
I've been trying to show different strategies but hadn't thought about trying to show them as a progression. Thanks for the thought. Sara
(And I like tara, too!)

1. Sara, I liked the antler picture too. We talked about why he drew them so simply instead of with lots of details. It's all about efficiency.

3. I hadn't thought of showing the strategies as a progression either. Thanks for the tip! And I agree, Tara has a wealth of fabulous resources!

1. Barb, I learned that in a math class that Idaho started requiring about five or six years ago. Great stuff!

4. I so could have used your math ideas when I was teaching second grade! Your ideas of having the students come to the board to show different strategies they used is so helpful to the students. They sometimes learn more from their peers! Great idea to show the progression in thinking too!
Lori
Conversations in Literacy

1. Lori, I sure wish I knew about these strategies years ago. All my past mathematicians could have benefited from something like this.