Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Seriously! What were YOU thinking?

Have you ever found yourself wondering the answer to that question during the day? Actually saying it out loud? Well, today….I did…out loud….over and over again….


…during math. Shocked?! At me asking that question or by the fact that I taught math, lol?! I don’t share a lot about our math time because my heart belongs to all things literacy, BUT today was one of those days when the lights came on. It was one of those days when through the organized chaos, the chitter chatter, through the rowdiness of it all…they learned. They REALLY learned. They got it!

 After creating a chart to outline the steps for solving a story problem, we reviewed each of the strategies we’ve been discussing and prepared to practice what we’d preached. We’ve been calling these…. “Think” Strategies…


I have some very clever little mathematicians in my class that keep me on my toes, so one strategy that I was sure to incorporate was, “I just know it”! I attended a training recently where one of the instructors expressed how important it is to share with students that “just knowing” the answer is a valuable strategy. By honoring it, the need for acknowledgement is addressed and those students that “just know it” are more receptive to practice the steps of the process because THEY know, YOU know that THEY KNOW the answer, even before beginning the steps of problem solving. =)


Each student received a story problem to solve. Only 5…6? 6, I think, were created. This approach allowed for students to work in pairs and/or small groups to engage in “math talk” to discuss their thinking. It also allowed for differentiation for ability. After students walked through the steps of solving the problem, they had one additional task….explain your thinking. Prove it. Defend why the strategy you chose to use was the BEST strategy to solve your story problem. Here’s a closer look.

Slide4 Slide5 Slide6

Their choice of the "BEST" strategy is named on the green sticky note.


….and now that we can better verbalize the “why” of what we did, the pesky worksheet has become a “think” sheet. Want your kiddos to show what they know? Great! But make ‘em tell you why! Seriously! Ask ‘em…… “What were YOU thinking”?!


See ya later! =)



  1. Which math series do you use. I feel like we have no time to do a great lesson like yours and still get through Go Math. Great ideas. I love reading your blog.

  2. Thanks, Valerie! We have a math textbook, but not a scripted program to follow. We have a scope and sequence that outlines the skills we must cover within a given timeframe, but are blessed to have the freedom to address them in the way that our kids are most receptive to learning....thanks, again!


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