Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bright Idea {Problem Solving}

Hi, Friends! How are ya? Are you ready for another Bright Idea?


Like most things that work out well in the classroom, this idea developed out of necessity. I needed something simple, quick, but meaningful as a daily opener for math. We begin math each day just after recess and it had to be an attention grabber to move forward with the lesson! Enter daily problem solving……


One sure way to get your firsties’ attention is to make learning personal! I incorporate students’ names into story problems each day. Because they know SOMEBODY’S name will be a part of the problem, they enjoy watching the problem pop up to read and see who it will be.  I also sneak in our current phonics patterns and sight words to get in additional reading practice….(gotta get the biggest bang for my buck)! Winking smile


When I shared this little guy via Instagram and FB, I really didn’t think it would get as much attention as it did! Seriously, ya’ll…’s a very simple slide. It’s just a text box for the story problem and two doodle frames with a white center for us to write over and manipulate objects to help solve the problem. As we return from lunch, we take 3 minutes to “cool down”. As they’re cooling down, I’m gearing up for problem solving! I just click and type in a new problem and we move forward. It really is just that simple…..

The trick is tying the story problems to real world situations that students can relate to.


In Guided Math:  A Framework for Mathematics Instruction, Marilyn Burns is quoted as stating the following criteria for problem solving practice:
  • There is a perplexing situation that the student understands.
  • The student is interested in finding a solution.
  • The student is unable to proceed directly toward a solution.
  • The solution requires use of mathematical ideas.
By keeping these criteria in mind and incorporating the requirements for problem solving from our new state standards….we’re involved in math talks, using vocabulary, exploring mathematical concepts, applying concepts we’ve learned in math and learning to explain and justify our thinking! Using student names in problems and our {Mimio} interactive whiteboard makes it all f-u-n! The student that is featured in the problem also gets to come up and help solve it!

As we move through the school year, problems will increase in difficulty and students will be expected to write to explain their thinking during math writing. Simple. Effective….daily problem solving!

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  1. This is a great idea! I used to do a Problem of the Day notebook, but we have to cut down on the copies, and this will be perfect. I love your template, too. Thanks so much for sharing! :)

    First Grade Fairytales

    1. Thanks, Kelly! I spend as little time at the copier as possible....we've had so much fun with this little daily routine! =)

  2. Replies
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    2. Thanks so much for stopping by! =)

  3. Great post! I don't have a smartboard, but could probably do something similar using my document camera! I love Marilyn Burns, she is amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Second Grade is Out of This World!


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