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.
"Something I have noticed as you all have become stronger math experts is that you are looking for information, clues and questions within problems. That is something that can be so tough when you have to look for more than 1 step! Today we are going to focus on how we break a problem apart into smaller pieces so that solving it becomes more clear.
Who can read this problem to me? What is the first thing they’re telling me? Can we break that apart into step 1? Ok, what’s next? What should I do here? Let’s break that apart into step 2. And what about after that? There’s our step 3. And what’s last? That’s right—FINALLY our question! Can you imagine if we had just circled key information, circled numbers and had only done 1 step? It’s going to take a lot of focus and hard work to solve all of these steps.
Do we all solve problems the exact same way? Who here draws a picture models? What about using our skip counting songs? Is one way more correct than the other? NO! We all have tools that we use that work best for us and today we are going to get to see all of that excellent thinking."
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.