I begin this lesson by asking the students what they know about the "fancy mathematical word" data. I am looking for the students to tell me that data is simply information. Then I ask the students about what they know about riddles. I am looking for the students to be able to tell me that riddles give you clues that help you figure out an answer.
I tell the students that today we are going to be using riddles to figure out... "The Mystery Number!" I am going to give them clues about a number and they are going to have to use the data or information that they know about that number to help them figure out the mystery number.
I begin this section of the lesson by explaining to the students that sometimes we can organize data into a table. I ask the students why they think it would be helpful to organize data into a table. I am listening for them to tell me that organizing information, or data, can help us identify information based on what the topic is.
I show them the first slide of the Riddle Me This Power Point Presentation (It is a table showing information about the length of marine mammals). I ask them to turn and talk about what this table shows and how they know that (MP5). I am listening for the students to be discussing how it shows the table shows the length of different marine mammals, and they know this because there is a title on the top of the table and on each line there is a different animal and it's length. I then pass out a copy of the Riddle Me This... Worksheet.
I read them the first riddle, step by step, asking them after each step if there are any animals we can eliminate from the list. How do we know that they are not the answer to the riddle? We continue until we have eliminated all but one.
We continue going through the Power Point presentation. The students follow along using their worksheet. There are several slides where the students move from riddles about the marine mammals to riddles using bare numbers.
I use these riddles for several reasons. One is that this approach develops the students' flexibility in thinking about numbers, "translating" the data into equations to determine if their thinking "makes sense" (MP2). I also like the students to use the process of elimination to remove numbers on a hundred chart because they don't fit the clues on the riddle, which develops their critical thinking skills (MP1).
The final section of the worksheet asks the students to create a riddle of their own using one of the numbers on that section of the hundred chart. The students will need to create at least 3 clues to help someone solve their riddle.
Helping the students find a good starting point to create a riddle is important. I review what the students know about characteristics of numbers. What are some ways that they could describe the number? As they respond, I prompt them to s - t - r - e - t - c - h their thinking:
Tell me more.
What else can you tell me?
Can you do that a different way?
How is these numbers like an addition problem (subtraction problem)?
This seems to help them look for the structure in their riddle and help them make use of that structure.
Once the students have written their riddles, I have them share it with a partner and try to solve it. Were the clues helpful? Could you solve the riddle correctly? If not, what clues would have helped you?
I usually have a few students share their riddle with the class and have the students try to solve it using either their worksheet or hundred chart.