Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thinking Problems for Math

Last winter I started giving my students a Thinking Problem each day. The students responded so well that I started with thinking problems right away this year. I used Share and Compare by Larry Buschman for inspiration. I read some open-ended stories but mostly simple stories that correspond with our unit themes. I am amazed at how quickly the students are able to grasp the concept of drawing to show what they are thinking. Some students are already writing equations. All the students are labeling pictures. After students solve the problem, a few students share their solutions with the class. Everyone shares with a partner, explaining their drawings, thinking and solution.

Thinking, Drawing, Solving.

Explaining and Sharing.

It is fascinating to see how the kids think and how different problem solving ability is when compared to math work on worksheets.  Problem solving is an essential practice described in The Common Core. Showing perseverance, flexibility and thoughtfulness is a key to understanding math.

Here are some of the problems we tried this week:

1. I went to the pumpkin patch and got a big pumpkin and a small pumpkin.  How many pumpkins did I get?

2. There are 2 rows of pumpkins in my pumpkin patch.  Each row has 4 pumpkins.
   How many pumpkins are growing in my garden?

3. Mia, Taylor and Morgan went to pick pumpkins. Each girl picked 2 pumpkins.  How many pumpkins did they pick?

5. You have a pumpkin patch.  You grew lots of pumpkins.  How many did you give to your mom?  How many did you give to your dad?  How many do you have left?

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