Collaborative Student Groups

CSI Time

CSI Time is an inquiry based strategy where students must solve a "math mystery" that introduces a concept that we will learn. They have until the end of the week to collaboratively (with their detective partner) discover the clues and work their way to the "criminall". In just 10 minutes, students have worked themselves into a frenzy to grapple with content they may not already know what to do with. This desire to problem solve pushes students during the lesson that follows to learn the skills they need to solve the mystery.  

Strategy Resources (1)
Students In Action
Students In Action
Daniel Utset-Guerrero
Holmes Elementary School
Miami, FL


About this strategy

Prep Time:
Fifth grade
Similar Strategies
Feedback Systems
Mastery Tracker Goal Setting

The mastery tracker displays individual progress towards all 5th grade math goals. In order to ensure that all students work towards the standards that we are held accountable to (regardless of pacing), we track progress and celebrate our achievements. This also allows for easy grouping for small group instruction as well as planning for future reteaches. Students can demonstrate mastery through our formative and summative assessments, knowing that the practice they work on between assessments helps them achieve such mastery.

Instructional Openings
Mad Minute

Mad Minute is a fast-paced math fact practice strategy that our class does every day as our "Do Now." My students get one minute to finish as many problems as they can, working towards getting the highest number of consecutive problems correct. As my students work on Mad Minute more and more, they improve their accuracy and speed. We also focus on improvement rather than overall score, celebrating students who get higher scores towards the end of the week.

Academic Culture

The neighborhood where my students come from can be full of negativity. My students need to learn how to support each other and accept the mistakes that come with the natural process of learning. Synergy is a strategy that is a core element of my blended model; it defines and reinforces the behaviors that successful teams use to work together to overcome a problem. Synergy has four basic expectations: 1) Push each other's thinking; 2) Share the load; 3) Use Accountable Talk; and 4) Move with speed. I use these expectations in a quick evaluation of each group every time we do group work, and the "winning group" receives a small prize, which reinforces my academic and social expectations and incentivizes friendly competition.

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