Make Meaning of Problems
Checklist: Students use checklists to plan for the task and to understand task priorities and expectations.
Checklist: Students use checklists to plan for the task and to understand task priorities and expectations.

Active Reading Checklist for Problem Solving

Beth's students solve problems in groups.  Before they get to work, Beth reminds her students that precise reading of a problem is an important first step.  Beth's school utilizes this active reading checklist, so Beth demonstrates the use of this tool. This checklist requires students to read the question, circle key task words, underline important information, write what the question is asking you to do, develop a plan, and answer the question.


About This Strategy
prep time:
Short
Grade Level: Tenth grade
Teaching Challenge: Make Meaning of Problems
Beth Menzie
Amsterdam High School
Amsterdam, NY
Strategy Implementation Questions
Questions to think about when implementing the strategy
  • How could you support your students so that they can effectively employ reading and critical thinking strategies to persevere and solve challenging problems, completing them with a formal explanation or logical statement?
  • How could you modify this strategy to implement it in your classroom?
  • How could this active reading checklist support students to make meaning of problems?
  • If you made your own Active Reading Checklist, what would you put on it? Discuss this idea with colleagues and see what you come up with!
Lesson Notes

The Isosceles Triangle Theorems provide great opportunities for work on algebra skills. With this in mind, I hand out the Isosceles Triangle Problems. I ask my students to work on them in groups and come to agreement on an answer before moving on to the next problem (MP3).

I introduce these problems by emphasizing the importance of precise reading of terms, preparing and annotating diagrams, and engaging one's imagination to apply the given information. As necessary I will intervene if students are misreading information. The Common Core increases expectations for students to read, process, and apply information from a text. In Geometry, I think that this requires me to use more literacy and reading strategies with my students. Fortunately, in my school, an Active Reading Strategy is used in all disciplines. I refer to this strategy as I hand out the problems, glad that the effort is school wide, rather than falling on my shoulders.

About This Strategy
prep time:
Short
Grade Level: Tenth grade
Teaching Challenge: Make Meaning of Problems
Beth Menzie
Amsterdam High School
Amsterdam, NY
Artifacts
Instructional Resource
Lesson File:Active Reading Strategy
Here is the Active Reading Checklist used at Beth's school. How does an interdisciplinary reading strategy like this help students to hone their problem solving and sense-making skills?
Student Practice
Lesson File:Isosceles Triangle Problems
Here are the Isosceles Triangle problems for students to practice in groups. Beth reminds her students to use their active reading checklist as they work on these problems. The checklist can support students to develop the sense-making skills that apply broadly to mathematical problem solving.
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