Why “I Do, We Do, You Do” Is NOT Always Best Practice for Teaching Math

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.

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TeachBrittany Hege
The Power of Numberless Word Problems

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.

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Modifying Math Word Problems to Encourage Curiosity

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!

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Must-Have Math Manipulatives for Upper Elementary Classrooms

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.

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Transform Your Math Block With Math Talk

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.

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A Community for Upper Elementary Math Teachers

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!

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Play Dough Fraction Project

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!

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