Building Our Problem Solving Practice & Skills

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SWBAT apply their understanding of multiplication and division to model and solve word problems.

Big Idea

Students can solve real world problems using their understanding of multiplication and division and recognizing the relationship they share.


10 minutes

Let’s start our problem solving work today with 2 of our classmates’ story problems. They may have taken 1 route to problem solve, and you may be thinking of another one. We all take different paths sometimes, and that’s why we share our brilliant work!

The warm-up problems and quick checks are important for students to develop fluency (3.OA.C.7). The independent practice they will do will also be targeted at developing fluency. The goal of quick checks and warm-ups is also to ensure students can make sense of problems and find solutions (MP1), to consider the units involved and understand the meaning of the quantities involved (MP2). I expect all of my students to show their work by modeling the problem (MP4), calculating accurately (MP6) and to identify patterns and relationships in the problems (MP7). I incorporate these things every day because they can be so difficult for young students to master.


35 minutes

Some of us find road blocks when we are trying to solve a problem, but we never give up. We pull out our toolbox and we don’t give up! What are some of the ways you guys are getting past your road blocks?

Here I expect students to respond that they draw models, they write out the steps they think they need to take, they look for keywords, they use their skip counting songs and doubles songs, or they think about fact families with multiplication and division.

Students have a pile (small) of word problems on their tables that alternate between the operations. Students choose problems, show their work to solve and then move on to another problem. If they have tried using their tools and are having trouble, I will help them get on the right track, but it’s important not to give them the answers. It is important that students are able to justify their reasoning and the validity of their answer (MP3, MP4, MP5, MP6) so I expect to see their steps for solving written out. I do not accept a single answer to justify their work, they must also show me their steps.

In order for students to develop fluency in solving problems. they must be given time to practice applying the skills they have learned.  But practice doesn't have to be deadly dull. The word problems, the problem solving strategies, and any other learning opportunities where students have choice, can positively transform student learning.