Persistence in Problem Solving: Student-Led Math Moments

Problem solving.  Teaching kids to have persistence to prevail.  This is so very hard! Are you with me on my thinking? We all have those kiddos who read through a word problem one time and expect that they will just *know* how to answer it.  Then there are the students that read the problem multiple times, use all the strategies we have taught, and still have a hard time getting started.

My district utilizes a time called Intentional Problem-Solving.  At first, I thought...well, I am getting problem solving in during my lessons, guided groups and stations.  And...that was the truth.  I could point out weekly where problem solving was happening within my math block.  Then, I decided to implement the time for problem solving....stand alone time! Nothing else going on except thinking, talking, modeling, explaining and solving.  Wow! What happened in my room was crazy good:-)

As we transitioned to math and my kiddos took bathroom breaks, I would pass out the prompts.  I preferred to type up the prompts and put 25 prompts to a page.  Then I could cut them out quickly for distribution and kids could get them taped/glued into their journals.  They looked like this...
Students would work anywhere from 2-5 minutes on their own solving the problem (or setting up to solve).  I also had students write out their thinking.  I encouraged them to tell what they know, and how they solved by walking through the process in their writing.  They also needed to answer the question in written form.  After working independently (and some times we went 8-10 min.) students collaborated and shared their thoughts with a partner or table group.  This time allowed students who were struggling to hear about the steps a successful student worked through to come up with a correct answer.  I usually then picked two students to share their thinking and work via our document camera.  

Looking back, and why I think students grew so much with our student-led math moments, has to do with the fact that we focused more on the math process and explanation in writing than on the correct answer.  We were always looking for students who solved the problem differently than the way their neighbor solved.  Students knew that we as a class were looking for math language, vocabulary, and/or symbols in their explanations as well as using strategies or giving/drawing a representation/model, etc.  It became this healthy competition where students were excited to share their work.


Each student grew, and by the end of the year, students were doing a great job with the written explanation piece.  I did not grade each entry. (Can you imagine? lol.)...but these were truly a treasure for parent conferences and also for RtI.  It made certain conversations easier because the proof was definitely in the pudding!! :-)  

When I did take a grade, students knew ahead of time and we discussed what I would be looking for in assessing their problem solving.  I developed the following rubric...

I really believe that the persistence in problem solving grew as student stamina grew. My students needed time, led by other students, to gain confidence in what I knew they could do.  We still have a log way to go, but I am so proud of the growth I've seen since utilizing this approach in class.  

As I went through the year, I developed many word problems that I have now bundled in my new Student-Led Solutions package! Word problems come in full page print outs (for binding weekly or for a folder with brads).  Problems also come 25 to a page for teachers who utilize the math journal approach, as I do in my classroom.  Here is what you can expect to find in the bundle.  



















Grab the 50 math journal prompts HERE!
What do you utilize to teach problem solving? I can't wait to learn from you.
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FREE Teacher and Volunteer Gift Printables


I had so much fun shopping for my son's two teachers this year...who both happen to be friends of mine.  (One of the fun perks of teaching at the school your own children attend).  First of all, this is my son....how cute is he, really? It is hard for me to believe this little boy who was born yesterday is almost a second grader *tear*. 

These two ladies this year have challenged, supported, and lifted up my boy on a daily basis.  He loves them both dearly and loves school.  I appreciate them both more than they know and am so blessed to have my son in their classrooms! 

MINT.  It is the color of the season and huge in weddings right now! I had to go with, "You were MINT to be my teacher" and found a bunch of fun mint-colored items for this first gift idea.

I found the mint earrings, sunglasses,  gray and mint scarf, and nail polish at Charming Charlie.  The mint canister is from Hobby Lobby and the mint bubble gum and EOS lip balm are from Target. You can fin the printable below.  

SHINE. I also love yellow and blue! Beautiful and bright! So many different gift ideas can go with this gift tag! 



A great teacher helps students SPARKLE! Here's another gift tag! Any sparkle jewelry, lanyard, etc. would be great to pair with this next tag!


I don't know about you, but I could not do what I do alone! I have some wonderful parents! Pair this next certificate with a scented hand-sanitizer or lotion and you are good to go!!

 Hope you can grab one of my tags/certificates and save some time on your EOY gifts! Happy summer, friends!












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Third Grade Marketplace

Third graders look forward to Marketplace all year long! Our third grade social studies curriculum teaches economics towards the end of the school year. The students must pick a good or service they would like to offer at school. Students work for about a month on their services and products. Students make a marketing plan, complete a cost analysis, and leave the unit with a pretty good understanding of basic economics. I was so impressed this year with what the kiddos came up with. We had amazing pet rocks. Their slogan, "If you have a pet rock, we can make it a family!" How cute is that?! When you bought a pet rock it came with its own scoop of dirt to sit in! I love it! I had two boys A.K.A The SNOT Doctors! The kiddos went wild over the muti-colored "snot!" We had ice cream sundae bars, cheerleading bows, heart-shaped bird feeder blocks, Lego painted pencil holders (super cute!) pencil pals, bookmarks, marshmallow guns, and much more! One of the most creative products were the Teacher Trading Cards. This student emailed every single teacher in the building and asked for some info on us including what we like to do outside of school. 
 Each grade level (K-5) comes in for about 20 minutes to shop! We take all the earnings from the day and donate the money to the Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure in honor of several teachers at our school who have had breast cancer. This year we raised over $2,300! The effort and creativity was amazing! You can see our day through pictures below!

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