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Tuesday Teacher Tips: Small Gems

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.

One of the best things about going to workshops is the unexpected “aha” moments that aren’t on the agenda. They are the little gems that prove to most valuable, because I “found” them accidently.

Sometimes the presenter will use a management tool to get our attention and I’ll incorporate that into my own classroom. Maybe the presenter will off-handedly refer to a resource book that ends up being one of my go-to books for the rest of the year.

This summer I was at the training “Introduction to Singapore Math Model Drawing” with Susan Midlarsky. She showed me an important step in the problem solving process. 

She told us that when she’s working on word problems with her students she always requires them to write a sentence that contains the answer before they begin solving the problem. This easy technique focuses students on what needs to be solved in the problem before they dig into it. It gets them thinking, “What do I have to find out in this problem?”

This is not a radically new idea, but it’s one that’s easily skipped. Requiring students to actually write the answer sentence before working the math teaches them to stop and carefully evaluate the problem to decode what the question is asking of them. The sentence provides direction, as well as a concrete tool to use while solving it. 

For example,

The ratio of average attendance at River Bats baseball games to attendance at the Dukes games was 4:1. If 4,000 people attended the River Bats game on average, how many attended the Dukes game?

On average, _________ people attended the Dukes game.

What is the little “aha” gem you’ve gleamed from a workshop this summer? Email and let us know. We’ll share them in a future blog.

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