Reflection: Grappling with Complexity The Story of 1 (Part 1) - Section 1: Warm up


My goal is for as many of the mathematical big ideas to come from my students as possible. This is really complicated for them and I haven't asked my 7th graders to do problems like this in the past. But, I have learned not to assume that I know what they are and are not capable of. In this lesson I just kept asking them:

  • "some groups got the 5 candies each and some didn't. How can the math help us figure out which ones did and which didn't?"
  • "why do you think these groups did and these didn't?"
  • "what is it about these terms that makes you think that?"
  • "what could we look for in the terms that might tell us?"
  • "how might we know that a certain group got candy?"

I don't expect every kid to know exactly what to look for right away, but my goal is just that I am not the one sharing the ideas. If one member of the math family group sees it I encourage him/her to share his discovery. I may have a few of my students share with the whole class. It feels more accessible to everyone if the idea comes from one of their peers than from me.

I was surprised in a later Number Talk in which I asked them to add 18+36+12 mentally and she used factoring. One student said "I did 11x6 and got 66". I knew it was the right answer, but didn't know right away what she had done. I asked if anyone could see what she was thinking and some of them did. She had factored out a six from each term 6x3+6x6+6x2 to get 6(3+6+2). In an even later Number Talk a student shared that he had tried to solve 32+50+28 by factoring a 4 out of both 32 and 28 to get 4(15)+50 but decided it was too hard and resorted to another strategy. Another student, who hadn't originally thought of it that way, said "no it's not, 4 fifteens on a clock is 60, which is easy to add to 50". I was very glad I had exposed my students to work that I had previously thought above them. Not only were ideas coming from them, but they were building on each others' thinking!


  Give them a chance to surprise you!
  Grappling with Complexity: Give them a chance to surprise you!
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The Story of 1 (Part 1)

Unit 3: Equivalent Expressions
Lesson 20 of 23

Objective: SWBAT partially factor variable expressions that can not be completely factored. SWBAT document evidence from an instructional video to support a claim.

Big Idea: Students will listen and look for evidence in resource material to support or refute a claim.

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2 teachers like this lesson
Math, Differentiation, factoring polynomial expressions, Expressions (Algebra), movie, distributive property with variables, evidence
  54 minutes
story of 1
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