Friday, September 20, 2013

Problem-Solving Challenge of the Month: September

One of the most critical features of a balanced math classroom is problem solving! Each month this year we are going to post a problem-solving challenge that we encourage you to give your students the opportunity to solve. Every problem that we give this year for the monthly challenge will have some connection to place value. Last year, we had a blog post that touched on this topic. Check it out!

All students must have a solid understanding of the base-ten number system by the time they leave elementary school. So, what does it mean to develop a base-ten understanding? As educators, we must provide students opportunities to explore the relationships of the powers of ten and this is a key component for how students become fluent with operations.

Even in kindergarten we provide opportunities for students to:
-see numbers as tens and ones
-use the structure of our number system to count with understanding
-use the structure to develop operations

So how can we help students to gain a deeper understanding of the base-ten system? You can begin by posing this problem:
This is a measurement division problem type and the "measurement" is ten. We are putting ten markers in a box which is the central organizing number of the base-ten system!

One of the best ways to differentiate a math problem is by giving different number choices. Decide on which numbers would be best for your class. Have students select "Company A, B or C" and start solving!

As students solve, observe how students are thinking and select varying levels of student work to share. Here is an example of some student work:
Gather students together and discuss the similarities and differences between each strategy. This is the fun part! Allow students make conjectures about the math. Ask, "What do notice? How do these strategies build on each other? Do you see any patterns in our solutions?"

After you solved this problem with your students, share a comment below and let us know how it went! Post picture on twitter using #lisdelemmath. We can't wait to learn with you!

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