Activating Knowledge and Engaging in Learning
Make Meaning of Problems
Activating Knowledge and Engaging in Learning: A teacher connects a new concept with information, texts, or other media students already feel comfortable with.
Activating Knowledge and Engaging in Learning: A teacher connects a new concept with information, texts, or other media students already feel comfortable with.

Act It Out to Make Meaning

Joyce reads a subtraction word problem to the class and her students (disguised with animal masks) act out the problem. The class then discusses the problem, its meaning, and how to solve it. Joyce continues this routine until all students have had a chance to act out a problem.

About This Strategy
prep time:
Moderate
Grade Level: Kindergarten
Teaching Challenge: Make Meaning of Problems
Joyce Baumann
Cold Spring Elementary
Cold Spring, MN
Strategy Implementation Questions
Questions to think about when implementing the strategy
  • How would you modify this strategy for the students in your classroom?
  • What might be challenging for students about this strategy?
  • What routines could you implement to make this strategy a success?
  • How could acting out problems support students to make meaning of the problem?
Lesson Notes

I tell the students that we are going to take away problems. I pass out the masks to the students and then I call different combinations of animals in front of the class. I count off a group of four students to go to the front of the room. I say to the students, "There are 4 animals in the barnyard. Gordy invites 2 cows to come to his party in the barn. How many animals are left?" I have the cows step off to the side. I call on a student to answer the question. I then invite the class to say the number sentence with me, "4 take away 2 is 2."

About This Strategy
prep time:
Moderate
Grade Level: Kindergarten
Teaching Challenge: Make Meaning of Problems
Joyce Baumann
Cold Spring Elementary
Cold Spring, MN
Artifacts
Instructional Resource
Lesson File:Farm Animal Masks
This document contains the animal masks that Joyce gives her students to act out the problems.
Students In Action
Lesson File:Classroom Video: Developing a Conceptual Understanding
In this professional video, students are writing number sentences based off of pictures as they begin to explore the concept of subtraction.
Students In Action
Lesson File:Classroom Video: Intrinsic Motivation
In this video, Joyce reads the problem and her students act it out. Acting out problems helps students make meaning of the problems.
Student Practice
Lesson File:Where Did They Go SMARTBoard Slides
This document contains the "take away" problems that Joyce's students practice solving and later act out.
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Break Apart Method for Multi-step Problems

Sarah introduces students to the break apart method as a means of chunking to make meaning of multi-step problems. Sarah's students underline each step of the problem to break the problem into more manageable chunks.

Guided Inquiry