If your students are working on multiplying whole numbers and fractions, fractions and fractions, fractions and mixed numbers, OR mixed numbers and mixed numbers (**so basically this applies to any and all of the fraction multiplication standards!**), then I think you will love this activity!

One way to differentiate your whole group math instruction is to use open questions. Open questions are tasks that are open to multiple approaches and multiple solutions. With these types of questions, students are able to solve the problem at a level that is appropriate to them based on their own understanding of the concept. Students end up attacking the problem differently or entering the problem at varying levels because all students go into the problem with their unique understanding of the math concept at hand.

Read MoreParallel tasks are a pair of questions that are very similar but a modification is made to one of the questions so that it is opened up to students at a variety of levels. Students have a choice as to which problem they solve allowing them to solve the problem that is most appropriate for their level of understanding. The two problems are similar enough that you can discuss the problems at the same time after students have had time to work on them.

Read MoreI’m not sure what the official name is for this strategy, but one of my favorite ways to differentiate a problem in a whole group setting is to give students options for the numbers in the problems. It is quick, easy, and you can do this with any problem from any curriculum. I believe the first time I came across this strategy was in the CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction) book…

Read MoreI’ve recently wondered when whole group math instruction became the enemy. Somewhere along the line whole group instruction was deemed bad practice. Somehow the assumption was made that if you were teaching your students as a whole group, then you weren’t meeting the needs of all your students. I felt a lot of pressure as a young teacher (honestly, I’m not even sure who the pressure was coming from) to teach math using primarily small groups.

Read MoreI don’t have to tell you about all the negative emotions surrounding fractions… Many students hate fractions. Some even FEAR fractions. And honestly? I know several *teachers* that dread any unit having to do with fractions too. Most of us weren’t taught fractions in a way that made sense or had any type of meaning. Some of our students were introduced to fractions in this same type of way as well. So how can we get students to love learning fractions?

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.

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. So why does a word problem without numbers fix all my problems? Here’s why.

Read MoreIf we can peak students’ curiosity in our math classrooms, then we’ve got them hooked. 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!

Read MoreIt’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.

Read More