Explaining Other People's Thinking

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SWBAT explain another person's strategy for solving a basic word problem.

Big Idea

Set up a culture of listening and understanding in your classroom with this meta cognitive lesson on what our brains do when we listen.

Setting Up the Learning

5 minutes

This lesson lays the foundation for CCSS.MP3, "Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others." Before students can learn to critique each other's reasoning, they must learn how to actively listen to what someone is saying. This is a great lesson to teach at the beginning of the year (or if the math culture in your classroom just needs some work!). This lesson extends the culture work we did in yesterday's lesson.


Yesterday we talked about what our eyes, ears and hearts should be doing while someone else is sharing their thinking. (I'll quickly review our strategy share chart-see attached strategy share picture!)


We listen to each other’s thinking because it helps us become stronger problem solvers. We are able to learn how someone else solved and then try it on our own.


Your thinking job is: What does my brain need to do so I can explain how someone else solved a problem?

Opening Discussion

10 minutes

Now we are going to think about this last symbol-the brain. We can look and listen and be nice, but if our brains aren’t thinking, we won’t learn. Our brains ask questions while someone is talking:

1. What did this person do to solve the strategy?

We will practice this norm with the problem from the day before. I’ll share how one child solved and then see who can say it back to me, reiterating that active listeners can repeat back what they are learning.

2. How is that different from what I did?

This person might solve differently from you-when you compare your strategies, it will help your brain understand someone else’s strategies

3. Do I want to try that strategy next time?

You might like that person’s strategy better than yours because it makes more sense, is easier than your strategy or its faster than your strategy.

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

We will read the problem 2 times together that students will solve on their own. In early first grade, reading a story problem can be a daunting task to students. Using pictures to support and reading the problem multiple times sets students up for success.

Present Problem: I have 4 boxes of crayons in my backpack. My teacher gives me 2 more boxes. How many boxes are in my backpack?

Guided Questions for Planning (These questions help prep students to “Make sense of and persevere through problems” on their own, CCSS.MP.1).

  • Can someone act this problem out for us?
  • 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

**See Story Problem Day 3.docx for problem!**



Student Work Time and Share

15 minutes

Student Work

I'll send students to work on this problem independently. Students work for 7-8 minutes. We are slowly increasing the amount of time they work at their desks. This scaffold is important for students as they build their stamina after a long summer of video games!

See 3 Levels of Student Work:

Level 1: Group A Example Work: This student showed the cubes, but is not writing in a way that the reader can understand the strategy. They did not use any numbers to explain how they knew it was 6.

Level 2: Group B Example Work: This student explained in a couple of sentences, showing that they are ready to write in a way that the reader can understand a little bit more of what they did. They labeled the group of 2-but the audience is unsure if they counted on from 2, or just labeled the group.

Level 3: Group C Example Work: This student used numbers to explain a very clearly represented strategy. This student also wrote more of an explanation for their work.

Student Share:

I’ll bring students back together to listen to how one student solved the problem. We will focus on our brains. While this person shares, your brain is asking: What did they do to solve? How is this different from mine? Is this a strategy I want to try next time?

While the student shares, students turn and talk about the brain questions.

Partner Talk:

  • What did they do to solve?
  • How is that different from how you solved?
  • Do you want to try that strategy the next time?


5 minutes

We will close the lesson by quickly reviewing the strategy poster. To keep students moving, we will point to each part of our body as we say the norms. Got to get those wiggles out!

We will also do a Follow Directions song that you can find here.

Watch the Incorporating movement video to hear how I incorporate movement for beginning of year first graders!