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Tuesday Teacher Tips: Model Drawing

Welcome to the Tuesday Teacher Tips series! Each week we’ll highlight teaching and learning resources, ideas to use in the classroom, as well as things to ponder as you go about your teaching day.

This summer I attended the workshop, “Introduction to Singapore Math Model Drawing,” presented by Susan Midlarsky.

Model drawing is a problem solving technique in which students draw bars to represent problems pictorially. This method easily moves students to solving problems algebraically, because they can visualize where the missing variable is and how it relates to the problem.

My district does not use Singapore Math, but our new math curriculum does use a form of model drawing and contains a heavy emphasis on problem solving. This year, I found that using bar models proved to be an excellent strategy to use with most students. It allowed them to clearly visualize the problem, especially when we learned more abstract concepts like ratios and fractions.

However, for those students who easily solve word problems drawing models was a challenge. These are the students who when you ask for an explanation of how they solved a problem tell you, “I just knew it.” Being able to translate and explain their thinking is difficult for these students, but bar models can help them process their thinking and grasp how they arrived at the answer. So in the future, when they are presented with more difficult problems that they don’t automatically “know,” they have tools to aid in solving them.

Do you use model drawing in your math program? What benefits and challenges have you experienced in implementing it in your classroom? Email and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

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