Clothesline Math Fun 1 (4th Grade)

The clothesline is a simple low-tech visual and effective manipulative at fostering student engagement, using student arguments and reasoning to structure classroom discourse, exposing student misconceptions, and helping students attend to precision.

Clothesline math activities are fun for teachers and students! I encourage you to try them out for yourself. To help guide your thinking, I’m writing up what I’ve learned from my experiences using the clothesline as the backbone of some lesson inquiries I’ve conducted. This write-up is about my experiences in 4th grade classrooms using the clothesline to encourage students to develop strategies on how to plot and compare values of fractions on a number line (4.NF.1, 4.NF.2). However, this lesson particular pathway is appropriate for 4th-9th grade students depending on their learning needs.

Two Engaging Proportional Reasoning Tasks

I hope that there are other 6th (and 7th) grade teachers out there that might find this analysis useful if they are looking for ways to increase student engagement, thinking, and discourse around percents, fractions, and proportional reasoning standards. This engaging learning opportunity can be used at the beginning of a unit as an inquiry-based exploration and pre-assessment. It can also be used as a way of assessing student learning in the middle or the end of a unit. It’s a low-floor opportunity that allows for students at all levels to participate. It also allows for rich discussion and sense-making because solutions can be reached via multiple strategies.

A Bright Idea for 2nd Grade Addition Strategies

It’s my hope that there are other elementary teachers out there that might find this analysis useful if they want to use this compelling and fun lesson by Graham Fletcher in their classrooms to engage their students in exploring addition strategies with regrouping (2.NBT.5, 2.NBT.6, 2.NBT.9). This engaging lesson is very open in the middle. Students have a wide variety of addition strategies they can use including concrete models (base-10 blocks, place value discs, etc) and abstract strategies (arrow method, decomposing, bar method, etc).

Using Tile Problems to Introduce Fractions and Create Intellectual Need

I had a chance to use Steve Wyborny’s tile images as a part of a 3rd grade lesson inquiry. The tile problems are an effective tool to engage students in discourse about their mathematical reasoning. Furthermore, it allows teachers to identify student misconceptions about partitioning and calculating area. These misconceptions often prevent students from understanding how to use the area model to reason about fractions (3.NF.1).

Knotty Rope 3-Act: Introducing Division in 3rd Grade

This lesson write-up is for teachers who want to engage their students in exploring division reasoning and problem solving strategies (3.OA.2, 3.OA.3 and 3.OA.7). It’s appropriate to use before and/or after students have explored division and allows for many different conceptual approaches to a solution including using repeated subtraction or repeated addition, equal groups with or without manipulatives, number lines, arrays, bar models, and multiplication or division equations to model a real world problem.

This write-up contains a lesson pathway with specific questions/moves to consider, analysis of the opportunities for student learning, and other wisdoms and insights we learned from teaching this lesson as a part of a lesson inquiry.

Give it a try with your own students. And then tell me how it went. Let’s make it better together.

Array-Bow of Skittles and Multiplication Strategies

This lesson write-up is for teaching a two-digit by two-digit multiplication 3-Act Math lesson where students estimate the number of Skittles in a jar before using information and math to find a more accurate estimate. It uses Graham Fletcher’s Array-Bow lesson and while it addresses standard 4.NBT.5, it’s appropriate for 4th and 5th grade students of all levels. The write-up contains a lesson pathway with specific questions/moves to consider, analysis of the opportunities for student learning, and other wisdoms and insights we learned from teaching this lesson as a part of a lesson inquiry.

Give it a try with your own students. And then tell me how it went. Let’s make it better together.

Proportional Reasoning by Jumping Rope

This lesson write-up is for teaching 6th (and 7th) grade proportional reasoning skills (6.RP.1, 6.RP.2, 6.RP.3) using Graham Fletcher’s Rope Jumper lesson. The write-up contains a lesson pathway with specific questions/moves to consider, analysis of the opportunities for student learning, and other wisdoms and insights we learned from teaching this lesson as a part of a lesson inquiry.

Give it a try with your own students. And then tell me how it went. Let’s get better together.

Decimal Division Strategies and Sense Making for 5th Grade

This lesson write-up is for any 5th or 6th grade teacher who wants to have students explore decimal concepts and refine decimal skills while solving an interesting, low-floor investigation. The lesson covers mostly the decimal division standards (5.NBT.6, 5.NBT.7, 6.NS.3) using Graham Fletcher’s Tomato-Tomato lesson. The activity is accessible to all learners and offers multiple approaches to a solution. The write-up contains a lesson pathway with specific questions and instructional moves to consider, analysis of the opportunities for student learning, and other wisdoms and insights we learned from teaching this lesson as a part of a lesson inquiry.

Give it a try with your own students. And then tell me how it went. Let’s get better together.

How Much Money in the Bowl?

This lesson write-up is for any 5th or 6th (or 7th) grade teacher who wants students to explore decimal concepts and refine decimal operations while exploring a compelling task that is engaging and accessible to all learners. Using an image from Andrew Stadel’s Estimation 180 page, students estimate, investigate, and then calculate the value of a bowl full of coins and demonstrate learning for 5.NBT.2, 5.NBT.7, and 6.NS.3. The write-up contains a lesson pathway with specific questions and instructional moves to consider, analysis of the opportunities for student learning, and other wisdoms and insights we learned from teaching this lesson as a part of a lesson inquiry.

Give it a try with your own students. And then tell me how it went. Let’s get better together.

Numberless Word Problem 1: Division in the 3rd Grade

I had the pleasure of working with 2 amazing 3rd grade teachers last week.  They had the usual concerns and frustrations about teaching word problems and were eager to find a better way to get their kids enthused and engaged.  So, we chose to do something different.  And I’d like to tell you about it. […]