5.2.3 Equations & Inequalities

Grade: 
5
Subject:
Math
Strand:
Algebra
Standard 5.2.3

Understand and interpret equations and inequalities involving variables and whole numbers, and use them to represent and solve real-world and mathematical problems.

Benchmark: 5.2.3.1 Equality

Determine whether an equation or inequality involving a variable is true or false for a given value of the variable.

For example: Determine whether the inequality 1.5 + x < 10 is true for x = 2.8, x = 8.1, or x = 9.2.

Benchmark: 5.2.3.2 Real-World & Equations & Inequalities

Represent real-world situations using equations and inequalities involving variables. Create real-world situations corresponding to equations and inequalities.

For example: 250 - 27 × a = b can be used to represent the number of sheets of paper remaining from a packet of 250 sheets when each student in a class of 27 is given a certain number of sheets.

Benchmark: 5.2.3.3 Expressions & Equations

Evaluate expressions and solve equations involving variables when values for the variables are given.

For example: Using the formula, A= ℓw, determine the area when the length is 5, and the width 6, and find the length when the area is 24 and the width is 4.

Overview

Big Ideas and Essential Understandings 

Standard 5.2.3 Essential Understandings

Fifth graders represent real-world situations using equations and inequalities involving variables and create real-world situations representing a given equation or inequality. They evaluate expressions and solve equations involving a variable when the value of the variable is given. Fifth graders determine if a given equation or expression is true for a given variable.

All Standard Benchmarks

5.2.3.1  Determine whether an equation or inequality involving a variable is true or false for a given value of the variable.

5.2.3.2  Represent real-world situations using equations and inequalities involving variables. Create real-world situations corresponding to equations and inequalities.

5.2.3.3  Evaluate expressions and solve equations involving variables when values for the variables are given.

Benchmark Cluster 

Benchmark A

5.2.3.1  Determine whether an equation or inequality involving a variable is true or false for a given value of the variable.

5.2.3.2  Represent real-world situations using equations and inequalities involving variables. Create real-world situations corresponding to equations and inequalities.

5.2.3.3  Evaluate expressions and solve equations involving variables when values for the variables are given.

What students should know and be able to do [at a mastery level] related to these benchmarks:

  • Use algebraic concepts and processes to represent and solve problems that involve variable quantities.
  • Represent real-world situations using equations and inequalities involving variables.
  • Create real-world situations corresponding to equations and inequalities.
  • Determine whether an equation or inequality is true or false for a given variable value.

For example, determine whether the inequality 1.5 + x < 10 is true for x = 2.8, x = 8.1, or x = 9.2.

  • Solve equations when values for variables are given.

For example, Using the formula, A = lw, determine the area when the length is 5, and the width 6, and find the length when the area is 24 and the width is 4.

  • Use the < and > symbols.
  • Solve equations and inequalities that are not embedded in a context.

 

Work from previous grades that supports this new learning includes:   

  • interpreting number sentences involving multiplication and division and unknowns.
  • representing a given problem situation with a number sentence.
  • using real-world situations to represent a given number sentences.
  • concretely modeling and describing mathematical relationships in open number sentences.
  • finding the value for unknowns in order to make number sentences true.
  • solving simple equations with the unknown represented as a variable.
  • seeing unknown numbers represented as variables, boxes or blanks.
Correlations 

NCTM Standards

Understand patterns, relations, and functions

Grades 3-5 Expectations

  • describe, extend, and make generalizations about geometric and numeric patterns;
  • represent and analyze patterns and functions, using words, tables, and graphs.

Represent and analyze mathematical situations and structures using algebraic symbols

Grades 3-5 Expectations

  • identify such properties as commutativity, associativity, and distributivity and use them to compute with whole numbers;
  • represent the idea of a variable as an unknown quantity using a letter or a symbol;
  • express mathematical relationships using equations.

Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships

Grades 3-5 Expectations

  • model problem situations with objects and use representations such as graphs, tables, and equations to draw conclusions. 

Common Core State Standards

Write and interpret numerical expressions.

  • 5.OA.1. Use parentheses, brackets, or braces in numerical expressions, and evaluate expressions with these symbols.
  • 5.OA.2. Write simple expressions that record calculations with numbers, and interpret numerical expressions without evaluating them. For example, express the calculation "Add 8 and 7, then multiply by 2" as 2 × (8 + 7). Recognize that 3 × (18932 + 921) is three times as large as 18932 + 921, without having to calculate the indicated sum or product.

Misconceptions

Student Misconceptions 

Students may think...

  • different variables in an equation or expression cannot have the same value.
  • 6r means six r's not six times r.
  • letters are only used as abbreviations; e.g., 6m meaning 6 meters.

Resources

Instructional Notes 

Teacher Notes

  • Students may need support in further development of previously studied concepts and skills.
  • Students must solve equations and inequalities that do not have a context.
  • The symbols < and > are used at the fifth grade level.
  • Students should have experiences finding the values of variables in equations and expressions that make the equation and variable both true and false.

 

  • Modeling word problems is critical as students develop an understanding of operations and the relationships that exist between and among those operations. The bar model is an effective tool that can be used to represent the relationships in a variety of problem solving situations.  
For more information on the bar model, read Modeling Word Problems in the
Mathematics Best Practice tab in the Resources section of the Minnesota

 

Questioning

Good questions, and good listening, will help children make sense of the mathematics, build self-confidence and encourage mathematical thinking and communication. A good question opens up a problem and supports different ways of thinking about it. The best questions are those that cannot be answered with a "yes" or a "no."

Getting Started

What do you need to find out?

What do you know now? How can you get the information? Where can you begin?

What terms do you understand/not understand?

What similar problems have you solved that would help?

While Working

How can you organize the information?

Can you make a drawing (model) to explain your thinking? What are other possibilities?

What would happen if...?

Can you describe an approach (strategy) you can use to solve this?

What do you need to do next?

Do you see any patterns or relationships that will help you solve this?

How does this relate to...?

Why did you...?

What assumptions are you making?

Reflecting about the Solution

How do you know your solution (conclusion) is reasonable? How did you arrive at your answer?

How can you convince me your answer makes sense?

What did you try that did not work? Has the question been answered?

Can the explanation be made clearer?

Responding (helps clarify and extend their thinking)

Tell me more.

Can you explain it in a different way?

Is there another possibility or strategy that would work?

Is there a more efficient strategy?

Help me understand this part ...

(Adapted from They're Counting on Us, California Mathematics Council, 1995)

Instructional Resources 

NCTM Illuminations

Understanding Distance, Speed, and Time relationships using simulation software

This example includes a software simulation of two runners along a track. Students can control the speeds and starting points of the runners, watch the race, and examine a graph of the time-versus-distance relationship. The computer simulation uses a context familiar to students, and the technology allows them to analyze the relationships more deeply because of the ease of manipulating the environment and observing the changes that occur. Activities like this can help students in the upper elementary grades understand ideas about functions and about representing change over time, as described in the Algebra Standard.

As People Get Older They get Taller

A key goal for instruction on algebra at the elementary level is to analyze change, and to understand how change in one variable can relate to change in a second variable. The goal of this lesson is for students to explore how changes in students' ages relate to changes in their heights.

Additional Instructional Resources  

Cuevas, G., & Yeatts, K. (2001). Navigating through algebra in grades 3-5. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Small, M. (2009). Good questions: Great ways to differentiate mathematics instruction.  New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Van de Walle, J., Karp, K., & Bay-Williams, J. (2010). Elementary and middle school mathematics: Teaching developmentally. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Van de Walle, J. & Lovin, L. (2006). Teaching student-centered mathematics grades 3-5. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Wickett, M., Kharas, K., & Burns, M. (2002). Grades 3-5 lessons for algebraic thinking. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications.

New Vocabulary 

New Vocabulary

"Vocabulary literally is the key tool for thinking."

Ruby Payne

Mathematics vocabulary words describe mathematical relationships and concepts and cannot be understood by simply practicing definitions.  Students need to have experiences communicating ideas using these words to explain, support, and justify their thinking.

Learning vocabulary in the mathematics classroom is contingent upon the following:

Integration:   Connecting new vocabulary to prior knowledge and previously learned vocabulary.  The brain seeks connections and ways to make meaning which occurs when accessing prior knowledge.

Repetition:    Using the word or concept many times during the learning process and connecting the word or concept with its meaning.  The role of the teacher is to provide experiences that will guarantee connections are made between mathematical concepts, relationships, and corresponding vocabulary words.

Meaningful    Multiple and varied opportunities to use the words in context.  These

Use:              opportunities occur when students explain their thinking, ask clarifying questions, write about mathematics, and think aloud when solving problems.  Teachers should be constantly probing student thinking in order to determine if students are connecting mathematics concepts and relationships with appropriate mathematics vocabulary.

Strategies for vocabulary development

Students do not learn vocabulary words by memorizing and practicing definitions. The following strategies keep vocabulary visible and accessible during instruction.

Mathematics Word Bank:  Each unit of study should have word banks visible during instruction.  Words and corresponding definitions are added to the word bank as the need arises.  Students refer to word banks when communicating mathematical ideas which leads to greater understanding and application of words in context.

Labeled pictures and charts:  Diagrams that are labeled provide opportunities for students to anchor their thinking as they develop conceptual understanding and increase opportunities for student learning.

Frayer Model: The Frayer Model connects words, definitions, examples and non-examples.

Example/Non-example Charts: This graphic organizer allows students to reason about mathematical relationships as they develop conceptual understanding of mathematics vocabulary words.  Teachers should use these during the instructional process to engage student in thinking about the meaning of words.

Vocabulary Strips:  Vocabulary strips give students a way to organize critical information about mathematics vocabulary words.

word

definition

illustration

Encouraging students to verbalize thinking by drawing, talking, and writing, increases opportunities to use the mathematics vocabulary words in context.

Additional Resources for Vocabulary Development

Murray, M. (2004). Teaching mathematics vocabulary in context. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Sammons, L. (2011).  Building mathematical comprehension: Using literacy strategies to make meaning.  Huntington Beach, CA: Shell Education.

Professional Learning Communities 

Reflection - Critical Questions regarding the teaching and learning of these benchmarks:

What are the key ideas related to determining whether an equation or inequality involving a variable is true or false (given value of the variable) at the fifth grade level? How do student misconceptions interfere with mastery of these ideas?

What skills do fifth graders need in order to successfully generate equivalent numerical expressions?

What experiences do students need in order to represent real-world situations using equations and inequalities involving variables? What experiences do students need in order to create real-world situations corresponding to given equations and inequalities involving variables?

What common errors do fifth graders make when they evaluate expressions and solve equations involving variables (variable values are given)?  What causes these errors? 

When checking for student understanding related to evaluating expressions and/or solving equations, what should teachers

  • listen for in student conversations?
  • look for in student work?
  • ask during classroom discussions?

Examine student work related to evaluating expressions and/or solving equations. What evidence do you need to say a student is proficient? Using three pieces of student work, determine what student understanding is observed through the work.

How can teachers assess student learning related to these benchmarks?

How are these benchmarks related to other benchmarks at the fifth grade level?

Professional Learning Community Resources

Bamberger, H., Oberdorf, C., & Schultz-Ferrell, K. (2010). Math misconceptions prek-grade 5: From misunderstanding to deep understanding. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Chapin, S., and Johnson, A. (2006). Math matters: Understanding the math you teach, grades K-8. (2nd ed.). Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Press.

Chapin, S., O'Connor, C., & Canavan Anderson, N. (2009). Classroom discussions: Using math talk to help students learn (Grades K-6). Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Fosnot, C., & Dolk, M. (2002). Young mathematicians at work: Multiplication and division. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Hyde, Arthur. (2006). Comprehending math adapting reading strategies to teach mathematics, K-6. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Lester, F. (2010). Teaching and learning mathematics: Transforming research for elementary school teachers. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Otto, A., Caldwell, J., Wallus Hancock, S., & Zbiek, R.(2011). Developing essential understanding of multiplication and division for teaching mathematics in grades 3 - 5. Reston, VA.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Parrish, S. (2010). Number talks: Helping children build mental math and computation strategies grades K-5. Sausalito. CA: Math Solutions.

Sammons, L., (2011). Building mathematical comprehension: Using literacy strategies to make meaning. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell Education.

Schielack, J. (2009). Focus in grade 3, teaching with curriculum focal points. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Wickett, M., Kharas, K., & Burns, M. (2002). Grades 3-5 lessons for algebraic thinking. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications

References 

Bamberger, H., Oberdorf, C., & Schultz-Ferrell, K. (2010). Math misconceptions prek-grade 5: From misunderstanding to deep understanding.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Bender, W. (2009). Differentiating math instruction: Strategies that work for k-8 classrooms! Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Bresser, R., Melanese, K., & Sphar, C. (2008).  Supporting English language learners in math class, grades k-2. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications.

Burns, Marilyn. (2007). About teaching mathematics:  A k-8 resource (3rd ed.). Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications.

Burns, M. (Ed). (1998). Leading the way: Principals and superintendents look at math instruction. Sausalito, CA:  Math Solutions.

Caldera, C. (2005). Houghton Mifflin math and English language learners. Boston, MA:  Houghton Mifflin Company.

Carpenter, T., Fennema, E., Franke, M., Levi, L., & Empson, S. (1999). Children's mathematics cognitively guided instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.     

Cavanagh, M. (2006). Math to learn: A mathematics handbook. Wilmington, MA:  Great Source Education Group, Inc.

Chapin, S., & Johnson, A. (2006). Math matters: Understanding the math you teach, grades K-8. (2nd ed.). Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Press.

Chapin, S., O'Connor, C., & Canavan Anderson, N. (2009). Classroom discussions: Using math talk to help students learn (Grades K-6). Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Dacey, L., & Salemi, R. (2007). Math for all: Differentiating instruction k-2. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Donovan, S., & Bradford, J. (Eds). (2005). How students learn: Mathematics in the classroom. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Dougherty, B., Flores, A., Louis, E., & Sophian, C. (2010). Developing essential understanding of number & numeration pre-k-grade 2. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Felux, C., & Snowdy, P. (Eds.). ( 2006). The math coach field guide: Charting your course. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Fuson, K., Clements, D., & Beckmann, S. (2009). Focus in grade 2 teaching with curriculum focal points. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Hyde, Arthur. (2006). Comprehending math adapting reading strategies to teach mathematics, K-6. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Kilpatrick, J., & Swafford, J. (Eds). (2001). Adding it up: Helping children learn mathematics. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Leinwand, S. (2000). Sensible mathematics: A guide for school leaders. Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann.

Lester, F. (2010). Teaching and learning mathematics: Transforming research for elementary school teachers. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Murray, M. (2004). Teaching mathematics vocabulary in context. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Murray, M., & Jorgensen, J. (2007). The differentiated math classroom: A guide for teachers k-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2000). Principles and standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM.

Parrish, S. (2010). Number talks: Helping children build mental math and computation strategies grades K-5. Sausalito. CA: Math Solutions.

Sammons, L. (2011). Building mathematical comprehension: Using literacy strategies to make meaning. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell Education.

Schielack, J., Charles, R., Clements, D., Duckett, P., Fennell, F., Lewandowski, S., ... & Zbiek, R. M. (2006). Curriculum focal points for prekindergarten through grade 8 mathematics: A quest for coherence. Reston, VA: NCTM.

Seeley, C. (2009). Faster isn't smarter: Messages about math teaching and learning in the 21st century. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Small, M. (2009). Good questions: Great ways to differentiate mathematics instruction.  New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Van de Walle, J., Karp, K., Bay-Williams, J. (2010). Elementary and middle school mathematics: Teaching developmentally. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Van de Walle, J. A., & Lovin, L. H. (2006). Teaching student-centered mathematics grades K-3. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

West, L., & Staub, F. (2003). Content focused coaching: Transforming mathematics lessons. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Wickett, M., Kharas, K., & Burns, M. (2002). Grades 3-5 lessons for algebraic thinking. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications.

Assessment

Yesterday, Jamal read 17 pages in his book. Today, he read more pages than he read yesterday. Which inequality shows p, the number of pages Jamal could have read today?

A. p <17

B. p ≤17

C. p >17

D. p ≥17

Solution:  C. p >17

Benchmark 5.2.3.2

MCA III Item Sampler

Which value makes the equation 5b +15 = 30 true?

A. b = 3

B. b = 9

C. b = 10

D. b = 75

Solution: A. b = 3

Benchmark 5.2.3.1

MCA III Item Sampler

What is the value of 4k + 6(j-2) when k=3 and j=5?

A. 26

B. 30

C. 40

D. 108

Solution: B. 30

Benchmark 5.2.3.3

MCA III Item Sampler

Differentiation

Struggling Learners 

Students with math difficulties are most successful when moving from the concrete to representation to abstract. Students would begin with visual representations pictures or manipulatives of number sentences such as 12 - 6 +5, or number sentences illustrating a property.

Students would also use visual representations to demonstrate why the commutative property does not work for subtraction such as this example: 23-10 does not equal 10-23. Students describe what they see happening in the picture, and the teacher models their description using a number sentence and symbols.  Students use pictures or manipulatives for only a few days and then progress to looking at examples and saying the name of the property (or a card representing the property) each example represents.

They would also do the same with multiple representations of a number sentence when given a number sentence, and they have to choose from a set of number sentences which ones would give the same value. Finally, the students would represent their own examples for properties and give multiple number representations for number sentences with the same value.

Student Think Alouds are an effective tool for students with math difficulties as they help students make meaning of their mathematics. The benefit of the Think Aloud slows down their thinking and makes them focus on the relationship between the property and the number sentence or the multiple representations for number sentences with the same value.

Concrete - Representational - Abstract Instructional Approach

(Adapted from The Access Center: Improving Access for All K-8 Students,

The Concrete-Representational-Abstract Instructional Approach (CRA) is a research-based instructional strategy that has proven effective in enhancing the mathematics performance of students who struggle with mathematics.

The CRA approach is based on three stages during the learning process:

Concrete         -           Representational       -           Abstract

The Concrete Stage is the doing stage. The concrete stage is the most critical in terms of developing conceptual understanding of mathematical skills and concepts.  At this stage, teachers use manipulatives to model mathematical concepts. The physical act of touching and moving manipulatives enables students to experience the mathematical concept at a concrete level.  Research shows that students who use concrete materials develop more precise and comprehensive mental representations, understand and apply mathematical concepts, and are more motivated and on-task.   Manipulatives must be selected based upon connections to the mathematical concept and the students' developmental level.

The Representational Stage is the drawing stage.  Mathematical concepts are represented using pictures or drawings of the manipulatives previously used at the Concrete Stage. Students move to this level after they have successfully used concrete materials to demonstrate conceptual understanding and solve problems.  They are moving from a concrete level of understanding toward an abstract level of understanding when drawing or using pictures to represent their thinking.  Students continue exploring the mathematical concept at this level while teachers are asking questions to elicit student thinking and understanding.

The Abstract Stage is the symbolic stage.  Teachers model mathematical concepts using numbers and mathematical symbols.  Operation symbols are used to represent addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Some students may not make a clean transfer to this level. They will work with some symbols and some pictures as they build abstract understanding.  Moving to the abstract level too quickly causes many student errors.   Practice at the abstract level will not lead to increased understanding unless students have a foundation based upon concrete and pictorial representations. 

Additional Resources

Bender, W. (2009). Differentiating math instruction: Strategies that work for k-8 classrooms! Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Dacey, L., & Lynch, J. (2007). Math for all: Differentiating instruction grades 3-5. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Murray, M., & Jorgensen, J. (2007). The differentiated math classroom: A guide for teachers k-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Small, M. (2009). Good questions: Great ways to differentiate mathematics instruction.  New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Van de Walle, J., Karp, K., & Bay-Williams, J. (2010). Elementary and middle school mathematics: Teaching developmentally. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Van de Walle, J., & Lovin, L. (2006). Teaching student-centered mathematics grades 3-5. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

English Language Learners 

Solving equations and inequalities will be easier for ELL students to do. Difficulties will occur when students need to read word problems and set up equations with variables due to reading difficulty. Students may need help with understanding the word problems or have the problems simplified for less reading. Writing long explanations and justifications will also be difficult and students may need to use pictures, graphs and charts to explain their thinking.

  • Word banks need to be part of the student learning environment in every mathematics unit of study. Refer to these throughout instruction.
  • Use vocabulary graphic organizers such as the Frayer model (see below) to emphasize vocabulary words count, first, second, third, etc.

  • Sentence Frames

Math sentence frames provide support that English Language Learners need in order to fully participate in math discussions.  Sentence frames provide appropriate sentence structure models, increase the likelihood of responses using content vocabulary, help students to conceptualize words and build confidence in English Language Learners.

Sample sentence frames related to these benchmarks:

If x = 10, solve the number sentence: 9 + 2x = _______

If x = 6 and y = 9, solve the number sentence: 19 + 3x + y = ______

When assessing the math skills of an ELL student it is important to determine if the student has difficulty with the math concept or with the language used to describe the concept and conceptual understanding. 

Additional ELL Resources:

Bresser, R., Melanese, K., & Sphar, C. (2008).  Supporting English language learners in math class, grades k-2. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications.

Extending the Learning 

Additional Resources

Bender, W. (2009). Differentiating math instruction: Strategies that work for k-8 classrooms! Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Dacey, L., & Lynch, J. (2007). Math for all: Differentiating instruction grades 3-5. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Murray, M., & Jorgensen, J. (2007). The differentiated math classroom: A guide for teachers k-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Small, M. (2009). Good questions: Great ways to differentiate mathematics instruction.  New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Parents/Admin

Classroom Observation 

Administrative/Peer Classroom Observation

Students are...          

Teachers are...         

working on the true/false and open number sentences independently.

presenting students with 10-15 true/false and open number sentences. The students are asked to work on them independently. The number sentences are a combination of equality/inequality and number property type number sentences. Examples: 17 + 15 = ___ + 18;

3(7 + 8) = 3 X 7 + 3 X 8 (T/F)

working with their partners looking over their work and discussing their solutions, focusing on ones that they have different solutions.

circulating the room while students are working and then asking the students to compare their work with a partner and discuss their thinking for solutions that are not the same; also noting students who are having difficulty and students who are using relational thinking vs. operational thinking (example: for 17 + 15 = a + 18, students are sharing that 18 is 3 more than 15, so 17 - 3 is 14 and 14 would fill in the blank so both sides are equal.)

working through the problems with the teacher and sharing their thinking.

pulling the whole group together going through the problems; focusing on problems observed as causing students difficulty and asking students having difficulty to explain their reasoning.

 

working with the whole class, providing some word problems with an unknown, then working with the whole class to set up the problem in a number sentence with a variable.

What should I look for in the mathematics classroom?

(Adapted from SciMathMN, 1997)

What are students doing?

  • Working in groups to make conjectures and solve problems.
  • Solving real-world problems, not just practicing a collection of isolated skills.
  • Representing mathematical ideas using concrete materials, pictures and symbols. Students know how and when to use tools such as blocks, scales, calculators, and computers.
  • Communicating mathematical ideas to one another through examples, demonstrations, models, drawing, and logical arguments.
  • Recognizing and connecting mathematical ideas.
  • Justifying their thinking and explaining different ways to solve a problem.

What are teachers doing?

  • Making student thinking the cornerstone of the learning process. This involves helping students organize, record, represent, and communicate their thinking.
  • Challenging students to think deeply about problems and encouraging a variety of approaches to a solution.
  • Connecting new mathematical concepts to previously learned ideas.
  • Providing a safe classroom environment where ideas are freely shared, discussed and analyzed.
  • Selecting appropriate activities and materials to support the learning of every student.
  • Working with other teachers to make connections between disciplines to show how math is related to other subjects.
  • Using assessments to uncover student thinking in order to guide instruction and assess understanding.

Additional Resources

For Mathematics Coaches

Chapin, S. and Johnson, A. (2006).  Math matters: Understanding the math you teach: Grades k-8. (2nd ed.). Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Donovan, S., & Bradford, J. (Eds). (2005). How students learn: Mathematics in the classroom. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Felux, C., & Snowdy, P. (Eds.). ( 2006). The math coach field guide: Charting your course. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Sammons, L., (2011).  Building mathematical comprehension: Using literacy strategies to make meaning.  Huntington Beach, CA: Shell Education.

West, L., & Staub, F. (2003). Content focused coaching: Transforming mathematics lessons. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

For Administrators

Burns, M. (Ed). (1998). Leading the way: Principals and superintendents look at math instruction. Sausalito, CA:  Math Solutions.

Kilpatrick, J., & Swafford, J. (Eds). (2001). Adding it up: Helping children learn mathematics. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Leinwand, S. (2000). Sensible mathematics: A guide for school leaders. Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann.

Lester, F. (2010). Teaching and learning mathematics: Transforming research for school administrators. Reston, VA:  National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Seeley, C. (2009). Faster isn't smarter: Messages about math teaching and learning in the 21st century. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Parents 

Mathematics handbooks to be used as home references:

Cavanagh, M. (2004). Math to Know: A mathematics handbook. Wilmington, MA:  Great Source Education Group, Inc.

Cavanagh, M. (2006). Math to learn: A mathematics handbook. Wilmington, MA:  Great Source Education Group, Inc.

Helping your child learn mathematics

Provides activities for children in preschool through grade 5

What should I look for in the mathematics program in my child's school? A Guide for Parents developed by SciMathMN

Help Your Children Make Sense of Math

Ask the right questions

In helping children learn, one goal is to assist children in becoming critical and independent thinkers. You can help by asking questions that guide, without telling them what to do.

Good questions, and good listening, will help children make sense of the mathematics, build self-confidence and encourage mathematical thinking and communication. A good question opens up a problem and supports different ways of thinking about it. The best questions are those that cannot be answered with a "yes" or a "no."

Getting Started

What do you need to find out?

What do you know now? How can you get the information? Where can you begin?

What terms do you understand/not understand?

What similar problems have you solved that would help?

While Working

How can you organize the information?

Can you make a drawing (model) to explain your thinking? What are other possibilities?

What would happen if . . . ?

Can you describe an approach (strategy) you can use to solve this?

What do you need to do next?

Do you see any patterns or relationships that will help you solve this?

How does this relate to...?

Can you make a prediction?

Why did you...?

What assumptions are you making?

Reflecting about the Solution

How do you know your solution (conclusion) is reasonable? How did you arrive at your answer?

How can you convince me your answer makes sense?

What did you try that did not work?

Has the question been answered?

Can the explanation be made clearer?

Responding (helps clarify and extend their thinking)

Tell me more.

Can you explain it in a different way?

Is there another possibility or strategy that would work?

Is there a more efficient strategy?

Help me understand this part...

Adapted from They're counting on us, California Mathematics Council, 1995.

Comments

Register

Trying to register as new account/user. I'm not understanding what I am supposed to comment on at this spot.