Criteria for Success: Story Problem

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SWBAT communicate their strategy for solving on paper.

Big Idea

Students learn the basics of "Modeling with Mathematics" (CCSS.MP.4) as they practice putting their thinking on paper in this beginning of year lesson.

Setting Up the Learning

5 minutes

CCSS Context:

This lesson is a great beginning of year lesson for 1st graders, or a problem solving lesson in Kinder. In this lesson, students practice solving a story problem (KOA1, 1OA1) and representing what they did in pictures and words. This is aligned to MP3, Construct viable arguments, as it prepares students to start to explain their reasoning behind a problem, and it aligned to MP4, Model with mathematics. It is also aligned to the CCSS emphasis on writing across the curriculum.


We have been talking about how we should listen when others are explaining their thinking. Today we are going to look at how we should show our thinking in pictures and words.


When we are able to draw how we solved something and write about it, we are able to teach others how we solved a problem. It also helps us to go back in our math journals and see how we solved problems before-this helps us with new problems we encounter.


Your thinking job is: What needs to go into my strategy box to help me show my thinking?

Opening Discussion

10 minutes

I’ll choose a student’s work from the day before (lesson) that has a drawing of what they did to solve. I will make sure this student will have put numbers and a picture in the strategy box on their problem.

“Let’s look at the way this friend solved their problem. While we are looking, we are going to see what they did to help us understand their thinking.

To help us keep track, I am going to add ideas to our anchor chart. This chart will have our criteria for success, the things you need to do to show all your thinking in a story problem."

See Criteria for Success video for more info on how I use criteria for success!

After reading the problem, we’ll discuss their strategy box using these guiding questions:

  • Who can look at this strategy box and explain how this person solved the problem? How did you know so easily? What in this box showed you that?
  • What did this person draw to help us know what tool he/she used?
  • How did you know the way this person counted?/What should we add to this to show how they counted?

I’ll restate: I see that we have written that we need to tell what tool we used and then label it with words or pictures to tell us what everything is.

Student Practice Time

10 minutes

During this part of the lesson, I'll tell students that I used a strategy to solve that problem but I am keeping it secret (an instant engagement technique for first grade!). 

I’ll tell students that I know my strategy and I want them to see if they can figure it out based on my work.

The focus of this time is for students to add to the strategy to make it more clear.

During strategy share time, we will focus on students talking in partners throughout this section.

  • Let’s look at this strategy box. Can you tell right away what the person did? Why not?
  • What would we need to add to this work to help us understand what that friend did?
    • I’ll push students to notice that the tool/counting method is unclear. I’ll label the tool in the picture.
    • I’ll models adding in numbers to show how they counted.

I’ll restate: We have 2 things we need to show in the strategy box: The tool and the labels. I want you to focus on adding in your tool and your labels in your own work.

Independent Practice

10 minutes

All students solve story problems, but have different numbers based on their level of understanding. You can find the differentiated worksheets here: Story Problem Day 4.docx.

Criteria for Success: 

  • Picture of your tools
  • Labels
  • Words

Here is how the problems are differentiated:

Group A: My intervention group will solve problems with numbers to 5.

Group B: My "right on track" group will solve problems with numbers under 10

Group C: I'll push my extension group by seeing if they can use a counting strategy instead of cubes. Many of these kids are ready for counting or mental math!



5 minutes

Sentence Stems mentioned in the Closing Feedback video narrative!

  • Great Job! You included ________.
  • Try it again! You forgot your_____________.