What are our norms for how we listen?

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SWBAT create and practice norms for listening to others' strategies.

Big Idea

This lesson helps build a strong culture of problem solvers, and it can work as an introduction in 1st grade or as a Kindergarten lesson!

Setting Up the Learning

5 minutes

CCSS Context:

The CCSS asks that students construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others (MP3). In order to create an environment where this kind of collaboration can happen, students have to learn how to listen to each other from the very start of the year! This lesson has students thinking about appropriate norms for how we listen to each other's thinking, and it's a great lesson to teach at the beginning of the year (or if you just need to hit the reset button for math culture in your classroom!).


We have been talking about how we work together in our classroom. Think of a time you told someone something and they didn’t listen. How did that make you feel? Turn and tell your partner. (I usually give a personal example to model). That made me feel sad!


We have to think about how we listen to each other and work together in math because it will help us solve problems all year long. All year we will be listening to each other’s thinking so today we have to practice sharing our thinking.


Your thinking question is: What norms do we need to have to help  us share our thinking?

See Listening Norm video for some of the WHY behind norms and how they promote learning in my classroom!

Opening Discussion

10 minutes

Before we even think about our story problems, we need to come up with some norms as a class. Norms are like rules. Everyone follows them because they help us work together to learn from each other.

See picture of our Strategy Share Norms Chart 

Eyes: Let’s think about what our eyes should be doing when a teammate is sharing their work. What do you think?

Push students to notice that they aren’t looking at the teacher, or their hands, or the ceiling, but on the student who is sharing and their work

Ears: What about our ears? What should our ears be doing when someone is sharing their work?

I'll record next to the ears and reiterate that in order to learn from a strategy students need to be able to listen so carefully that they know what that person said.

Heart: Brainstorm

  • What could we do if that person is stuck and doesn’t know how to explain their thinking? 
  • What if they got the answer wrong?
  • What is they make a mistake when sharing? 
  • What if they do a great job? 

To most of these questions, the exemplar answer is we don't laugh at the person, we wait patiently, etc. Another common answer is to "show love"

The way we "show love" in my classroom is by doing quiet encouraging hand signals. One is snapping quietly when someone does a great job. One is "showing love", which in other schools is sometimes called "giving energy", where we wiggle our fingers in the direction of the person speaking. This is the one I model using when someone makes a mistake or gets stuck.

Now we are going to solve a problem at our desks. Let’s read it together.

Work Time

13 minutes

Present problem and read 2 times:

I have 4 milks on my breakfast table. My teacher gives me 3 more milks. How many milks are on my breakfast table?

Can someone act this problem out for us with cubes?

Partner Talk for planning: What could you do to solve this problem? I don’t want the answer yet, just how we could figure it out.

You are going to solve this problem at your desk. You can use cubes or another strategy that you have. Then we will come back to the rug and share our strategies.

Students work on problem at their desks.

See Story Problem Day 2.docx for independent practice problems.

I have cubes available to every student. At this point in the year, students will almost exclusively use concrete models. The differences between strategies may be subtle, but they are significant! For example, students may take out 4 cubes and put 3 more cubes, then count all of them. Some students may start at 3 and count on 4 more. And other students may start at 4 and count on. Leaving the problem open ended allows students to choose the strategy that makes the most sense for them.

See the attached Example Work for how one student solved. You can see where they first drew 4, then 3 more, then 3 more on top of that and got the answer was 10, but went back and erased. This child included a number in their strategy-the push for this child would be to include how they counted the cubes so the reader can follow their thinking exactly.


8 minutes

We are going to listen to how one person solved this problem. 

While we listen, we are going to observe the norms we wrote for our class (I review our list quickly because it's still new).

I'll give the student who is sharing a star sticker to give to one peer that observes our class norms.