Math Task

I used this math task with my advanced third graders. This task can easily be adapted for other grades simply by changing the number of quarters. To begin the lesson, I asked students to identify the patterns posted on index cards that were handed to them as they walked into class. The patterns on the cards were similar to the following ~ Pattern #1: 3, 5, 7, 9... Pattern #2:  A, A, B, B, C, ... Pattern #3: 11, 22, 33, ... Depending on the readiness levels of your students, you can adjust the patterns you use to launch the task. Students were asked to discuss the patterns and identify some of the similarities and differences amongst the patterns. This was used to activate thinking and set the stage for the task. Then we discussed the meaning of the word pattern.

Once this common foundation was established, we reviewed the "I can..." statements for the task. Setting clear targets of learning can help to set a purpose for student engagement. Click the image below to see what we focused on during this task.

Before actually working on the task in collaborative groups, we spent time deconstructing the math task as a whole group much like we deconstruct text in reading. I posted the math task on chart paper for all to see. As a class, we discussed the meaning line by line. The goal was to remove barriers and create a clear picture of what was intended so once the students got started, they would be ready to tackle the task. A few minutes upfront saved minutes of work time and fewer hands went up.

This task not only ties into the CCSS, it also allows for students to practice Mathematical Practice #1: Make Sense of Problems and Persevere in Solving Them. My hope was once students began this task after we deconstructed its meaning, they would be able to dig deep and continue working even when faced with a challenge and most importantly be able to justify their answer by using more than one strategy. Click the image below to grab a copy of the math task.

Graphics by ScrappinDoodles.com
With a few minutes left of class, students briefly shared their procedures with each other and then completed a Lesson Recap. This was used to help me better understand the level of understanding of my students and where I would need to take them the next class period. A quick formative assessment can help to synthesize learning for the students and provide valuable information to guide further instruction. Click on the image below to download a copy. 



Bloom's Taxonomy Question Stems

Questioning at a higher level can encourage students to explore deeper understandings of the concepts being taught. As a visual reminder of higher level questions, I use question stem cards and put them on a ring. The question stems come from Bloom's Taxonomy. Questions are leveled. Each level of Bloom's Taxonomy then is put on a different colored index card. This helps to quickly identify question stems that I want to use during a lesson.

When I am doing whole group instruction or small group instruction, I can pick up my ring of cards and differentiate the type of questions I am asking my students to foster deeper conversations. Click on the image and get your own copy of some question stems from the lowest level of understanding which is remembering to the highest level of understanding which is creating.


Another Look at Math Vocab & Graphic Organizers

Use graphic organizers to deepen understanding of key math vocabulary words in the math classroom. Here are a few graphic organizers that you can download by clicking on the images. The Frayer Model helps students to develop a deeper understanding of complex concepts and can be modified and differentiated to address the readiness levels of your students. Depending on the focus of learning,  the descriptors in the Frayer Model can be changed. Once students have used this graphic organizer with various different descriptors, give students a blank organizer. Then have students fill in the descriptors that they feel will help them best learn the essential vocabulary.

A concept definition map can help students conceptually understand a word by looking at it through different lenses. 

Connect Two is a strategy that can help students see associations and connections between different words. Take two words from the math word wall and see if students can look beyond the literal definitions of these words. Why not try connecting three words sometimes? This strategy can help students to develop associations and see the interconnectedness of math vocabulary.

Along with graphic organizers, using a math word wall can help to foster vocabulary development. If you are looking for a resource that has cards to use for a math word wall, click here: Math Vocabulary Cards.


Text Complexity Bookmark

Text complexity. Taking a new look at the text we use with our students in the classroom. This bookmark tool may be helpful when trying to determine the level of complexity of any given text. By looking at the different layers of a text, we can determine if a particular piece of text is appropriate for a given grade level. The type of text we ask students to read needs to meet the requirements outlined by the CCSS if we are to adequately prepare our students for anchor standard R.CCR.10. This anchor standard states that students should be able to read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently. Click on the image to get your copy of the bookmark.

Reader Task Considerations: Text Complexity Bookmark

When considering text complexity, it is more than just difficult text.  Qualitative measures, quantitative measures, and reader and task considerations are interwoven elements that can create a complex reading experience for students. By taking a close look at the complexity of the task assigned when students are given a text to read can raise the rigor. Creating bookmarks targeted at a specific focus is one way to create a complex task. Check out the samples by clicking on the image below.