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.
A Community for Upper Elementary Math Teachers
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!
Problem-Solving: Helping Students Get Unstuck
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!
Engaging First Week of School Activities
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.
Can you believe it is back to school time already? We just finished up an amazing first week of school and I could not have been more exhausted! After a weekend of rest, I am looking forward to the second week of school. But first, I had to share with you a few of the activities I did with my students in their first week of the new school year!