Why “I Do, We Do, You Do” Is NOT Always Best Practice for Teaching Math
The Power of Numberless Word Problems
Remember the gradual release model? The “I do, we do, you do” lesson plan template most of us were given at some point by professors in college or administrators during our first few years teaching? That is NOT always best practice for teaching students math.
Because there is no ONE RIGHT WAY to teach math all of the time, I was intentional in adding that it is not “always" best practice (notice I didn't say it's NEVER best practice). Truthfully, there may times where that model is beneficial. But, really, quality math instruction and deep mathematical understanding cannot be achieved when "I do, we do, you do" is the basis for structuring the majority of our math lessons.
Modifying Math Word Problems to Encourage Curiosity
How many times have you watched a student read (…skim) a word problem and then immediately start computing the answer before you have even had a chance to give directions? No matter how much we talked about the importance of taking time to understand the problem, I always have those students who just pull out the numbers, choose a random operation, and solve. And let me tell you… it. drives. me. crazy. This is about the time that I throw a new word problem on the board, take my favorite black sharpie and color over the numbers because I know numberless word problems are exactly what they need. So why does a word problem without numbers fix all my problems? Here’s why.
Must-Have Math Manipulatives for Upper Elementary Classrooms
Curiosity is a powerful thing. We want to see that desire in our students! We want our kids so invested in the math that they are doing that they can’t stop until they figure it out. Kids are naturally curious, even if it isn’t always what we would like them to be curious about. If we can peak students’ curiosity in our math classrooms, then we’ve got them hooked. When students are curious, they are engaged. When they are engaged in meaningful tasks, they learn. That sounds like a win all the way around, right? So how can we open up our math problems to wonder and curiosity so that students are motivated and engaged in the math they are doing? Here are two of my favorite strategies for encouraging mathematical curiosity through word problems!
Transform Your Math Block With Math Talk
It’s no secret that students learn best when they have the ability to play with math. Manipulatives give students the opportunity to explore how numbers works and develop deep conceptual understanding of important math concepts. Let’s dive into my list of must-have math manipulatives for upper elementary classrooms by focusing on the major work for third, fourth, and fifth grade math.
Summer 2018 Book Study
Kids love to talk, did you know that? I love to just listen to them talk. The things that come out of their little mouths can be downright hilarious. If you listen close enough, you’ll also notice kids have such a unique (and sometimes surprising) perspective on everything. So how can we as teachers tap into this to improve math learning in our classroom? We do this by making math talk a regular and welcomed part of our daily routine.
A Community for Upper Elementary Math Teachers
In just a few short weeks we will launch our Upper Elementary Math Teachers facebook group and begin reading Becoming the Math Teacher You Wished You'd Had by Tracy Zager together! This book will leave you inspired, encouraged, motivated, and ready to get back in the classroom (well, after your well-deserved summer break of course) and give your students the amazing math experiences they desperately need!
Play Dough Fraction Project
For a while now I have wanted to create some way for math teachers, specifically those who work with 3rd-5th grade students, to connect and grow together. I wanted a place that was completely devoted to #allthingsmath where teachers could come to learn from each other and be inspired by one another. I wanted a place where math teachers could come to support each other on the hard days and celebrate the great days!
Problem-Solving: Helping Students Get Unstuck
One of my favorite things to do in the classroom is to actually make things with my students. I absolutely love throwing on my apron and getting my hands and the rest of the classroom dirty! Creating with kids makes for the best memories! It may take a little extra planning, organizing, and cleaning, but I have never regretted giving my students these types of experiences!
Rethinking How We Teach Operations with Fractions and Decimals
I think it's safe to say we have all had those students who immediately after reading a math problem raises their hand and simultaneously shouts "but I don't get it!" It can be incredibly frustrating because you know they have not truly taken a reasonable amount of time to think through the problem and try to do something.
What I found is not so clear among many teachers and those district leaders who write our pacing guides is what comes first? Operations with fractions or operations with decimals? Both of these concepts play a huge role in 5th grade math and provide a critical foundation for math learning through high school and beyond.