Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Anchor Charts - Problem Solving

In Ellen's Grade 2/3 class they have been creating math anchor charts to help them when they get stuck. One of the charts that the class made was on what to do when they come to a problem. They laid out their problem solving process into four steps: Read, Think, Talk, Write. Each part was detailed on the main anchor chart and the students can refer to it at anytime.
To help her students remember where to look in the class for help, she puts the "Read, Think, Talk, Write" phrase at the end of the problem. (See the first picture for an example of this). As the students solve their problem, they are encouraged to write down their thinking onto their work. In the second picture, you can see how the students used circles around their work in order to keep their ideas separate. They listed things that they knew and didn't know, and then worked together to come up with an answer.
Getting your students to communicate their thinking is a road block that we face year after year. It is not something that comes easy. We need to allow students time to not only comprehend the problem, but also talk about their ideas and strategies (congress) and make corrections when their thinking changes. Problem solving is a skill that takes years to improve upon. This is why the curriculum insists that children start at Kindergarten and continue on for their entire educational career. It's not easy to teach, in fact at times you'll want to pull your hair out - but - you really help students not only make sense of the math they are working on, but see how it applies to the world around them.

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