## Mystery Problem: Mystery Problem

Mystery Problem
Students In Action

Students In Action

Whole-Group Instruction

# Mystery Problem

This strategy is a biweekly problem solving investigation on recently learned content. Typically students will be given sample scanned answers that I have hand selected. These problems have been previously solved. Students meet on the carpet for the mystery problem reveal. We also cover what the goal of our session will be using a checklist/success rubric. They are then dismissed to investigate in teams. The students select manipulatives to discuss, develop an agreed upon idea, and critique which student(s) response they agree with/why. If a team finishes early they can work on they "Step ahead" which is harder differentiated task. Finally they use the checklist to self reflect if they were successful during the mystery problem session.

Strategy Resources (3)
Students In Action

Lesson Plan

The Checklist/Rubric is an assessment tool students use to convey where they are with their task for the lesson or team task. The checklist has indicators students select from: starting to [understand], not yet, and Yes! The rubric is checked off as the team progresses through the lesson and at the conclusion they evaluate how they did. Using this rubric with student friendly language allows students to determine what there next steps may be during a lesson, provide constructive feedback to one another, or consider what they need work on to be ready for the next lesson.
Student Work Sample

The sample slides show the progression of the mystery problem. We start by revealing and reviewing the self-assessment checklist, consider what we know about the topic and move on to the mystery. Within the mystery problem slide, students determine which student written solution from their math journals is correct by solving the problem in their teams. Students are free to select any manipulatives we have available during the mystery problem team time.
Students In Action

Lesson Plan

The Checklist/Rubric is an assessment tool students use to convey where they are with their task for the lesson or team task. The checklist has indicators students select from: starting to [understand], not yet, and Yes! The rubric is checked off as the team progresses through the lesson and at the conclusion they evaluate how they did. Using this rubric with student friendly language allows students to determine what there next steps may be during a lesson, provide constructive feedback to one another, or consider what they need work on to be ready for the next lesson.
Student Work Sample

The sample slides show the progression of the mystery problem. We start by revealing and reviewing the self-assessment checklist, consider what we know about the topic and move on to the mystery. Within the mystery problem slide, students determine which student written solution from their math journals is correct by solving the problem in their teams. Students are free to select any manipulatives we have available during the mystery problem team time.
Freddy Esparza
Los Angeles, CA

Prep Time:
Moderate
Subject:
Math
##### Similar Strategies
Whole-Group Instruction

Many teachers--myself included--utilize a version of the Think Pair Share strategy to give students opportunities for social learning and to build a culture of classroom community that includes respectful academic discourse. I use the Main Idea Think Pair Share strategy to ensure that my students are able to identify and articulate the main ideas of texts we are reading, which is one of the most foundational literacy skills that all effective readers must develop. I find that it can be helpful to use scaffolds like sentence stems and a variety of starting approaches (e.g., "the student with the longest hair speaks first") to ensure that this strategy remains fresh and accessible to my students, many of whom are English Language Learners.

Assessment & Data

As a blended school, sometimes there is an overwhelming amount of data. Knowing how to use it and when is critical in making sure that the data is both purposeful and useful. Included is both offline (DRA, RAZ, and Interim Benchmark assessments) and online (iReady) assessments to inform instruction and make groups (guided reading, computer groups, and skills-based groups).

Instructional Openings

In my class, we go over one word a day from the unit we’re learning. The first step is to ask the class how many have heard of the word before. After I tally the number, those students predict its meaning (without giving any contexts). I ask them to justify why they make that prediction (e..g, where have they heard that word before? What clues are they drawing their information from?). After they share their predictions, I then share with them the signal or physical movement attached to word. It then becomes the signal word of the day.