This is a summary of the three-part lesson we observed in Marie's Grade 3 classroom.
This lesson was done in the middle of the money unit. Students had many experiences:
- identifying the names of the coins
- the value of the coins
- counting money
- estimating money
The KWC Chart:
Students were very familiar with the KWC chart. They understood that it was a tool to help them understand problems. Marie usually modelled the KWC chart as a whole class. This is the first lesson in which students were asked to complete the chart independently.
Marie and her students co-created the success criteria for communication in prior lessons.
Creating generic success criteria like this allows Marie and her students to use it for all problem solving lessons.
Part 1: Getting Started
Marie used a counting game to activate students' prior experiences with money. Students went around the circle counting by 25 cents. Students who landed on a dollar amount sat down. This continued until one student was left standing. This activity ensured that students understood how to make a dollar with quarters.
Part 2: Working on It
Marie introduced the problem to the whole class. She had it written on chart paper for all to see. Students had the problem stapled to their chart paper as well.
Prior to sending students off to work on the problem, she reviewed the success criteria for effective communication during problem solving.
Marie paired students according to ability, personalities, and their use of certain problem solving strategies.
Independent use of the KWC chart:
Based on the KWC charts, most pairs understood the problem.
Concrete materials as supports:
Students had access to a variety of materials to help them solve the problem. Since this was a common practice in Marie's classroom, we observed students using them!
Intentional Selection of Solutions
Many pairs were able to find at least one solution. Marie noticed that many pairs started with the obvious choice: four quarters. So she looked for evidence of intentional thinking. She wanted to highlight what to do after getting the obvious solution. Pairs who were able to do this were selected to share their work with the whole class.
Part 3: Reflecting and Connecting (Consolidation)
The gallery walk strategy is one way to honour all the different thinking in the room. Marie used this strategy to get students to see the different strategies that was used to solve this problem.
All of the student work was placed on top of desks and pairs were invited to walk around to look at other people's thinking.
This is a strategy that Marie usually employs to consolidate students understanding of the mathematics behind the problem. Here are two groups that were asked to share:
|This group started with the obvious combination: 4 quarters. Many other pairs could relate to this solution.|
|This pair demonstrated an 'intentional' way of finding all the combinations. They started with the bigger coins then substituted in other coins.|
Marie sat at the back of the room. This focused the class on the presenters, not on the teacher. She also stepped in and made connections between the different solutions. This allowed the class to seen how each solution shared was related to each other.
Part 3: Explicit Teaching
Marie explicitly labelled the problem solving strategies that were highlighted: guess and check, organized list, addition. If she had more time, Marie would have liked to demonstrate to the class how to organize all the combinations into a table. Instead, she plans on starting the next day's lesson with this strategy.