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INQUIRY PROJECT: Making & Solving Math Problems (Grade 2)

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#1 - Finding “real life” math problems! Students were asked to find math problems in every day life (outside of school) and bring them to class to share with us.

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#1 - Finding “real life” math problems! There were 3 pets and 3 people living in my house. We lost 1 pet and got 1 pet. How many people and pets living in my house now? by Lexie

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#1 - Finding “real life” math problems! I was eating noodles and it was 4:45 after school. I needed to wait for the noodles to sit for 5 minutes. I had to watch the clock but I didn’t know what time to wait for! (Don’t worry. I figured it out.) What time were my noodles ready? by Kaci

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#2 – What makes a math problem? We examined the problems students brought in as well as problems from our math book to figure out the important parts of a good math problem.

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#3 – Awesome or awful? Next, we created a rubric for making good math problems, using a smiley face for “awesome” and sad face for “awful.” We wrote the descriptors together, but then had a less “wordy” version for student use.

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#3 – Awesome or awful? Problem Numbers Meaning Topic Understanding Sentences

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#4 – Let’s make some problems! Students had opportunity to create their own math problems. They were given the topic of “zoo animals.” We discussed what type of math problems might need to dealt with at the zoo.

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#4 – Let’s make some problems! There were 100 llamas, 100 pumas, and 100 tigers. How many animals together? by Marc

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#4 – Let’s make some problems! There are 20 sandcats. 9 are hungry. How many sandcats are not hungry? by Luke

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#4 – Let’s make some problems! Students worked in small groups to assess another student’s “zoo problem” using a rubric that they copied from the board.

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#4 – Let’s make some problems!

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We reviewed several of these assessments as a class, having scanned the problems written by the students so they could be shown on the SmartBoard.

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#4 – Let’s make some problems!

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Students were given another chance to create their own problems, this time given the topic of sports. There was time for discussion and then students were partnered up for feedback using the rubrics for assessment.

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#4 – Let’s make some problems!

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#5 – Be the teacher! (beginning our final task) It was explained to the class that each student would be choosing a math problem they created for other students to try – just like the teacher chooses math problems for students to try!

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#5 – Be the teacher! (beginning our final task) This meant that we had to have really good problems that other students would understand. We wanted them to look neat, so we went to the computer lab to type up our problems!

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#5 – Be the teacher! (beginning our final task)

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#6 – Let’s ask an expert! We had an expert at solving math problems come to our class – our school secretary. She solves many math problems every day and she could explain to our class the importance of “showing” and “saving your thinking,” rather than just recording the final answer!

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#6 – Let’s ask an expert! I knew that our guest would be showing us a program on the computer that she uses to keep track of money. We had been collecting coins in our class to raise money to provide people with clean water – part of our science unit – so I had the students count the coins to be prepared for our guest.

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#6 – Let’s ask an expert!

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#7 – Is there only one way? Our next focus is how to show good answers or solutions to math problems. All the students tried the same math problem and the answers were scanned and shown on the SmartBoard.

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#7 – Is there only one way?

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From looking at the many different answers, we discussed the variety of strategies used to solve the problem and we gave names to those strategies.

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#7 – Is there only one way? ANSWER STRATEGIES: number sentences drawing pictures skip counting showing steps writing words

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#8 – Try something different! Students were challenged to solve a problem two times – using a different strategy each time. They needed to “show their thinking” so that the class would understand their strategies.

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#8 – Try something different! I sailed 12 boats and my two brothers sailed 4 boats altogether. Oh no! No more boats! They broke so we crumpled them up. How many boats did my brothers and I sail? by Janae We found at least eleven different strategies/combinations of strategies/versions of showing strategies when our class tried to solve this one problem. They all lead to the same answer!

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#8 – I can’t read your mind! Following a this study about solutions to math problems, we created a rubric for good answers, using the smiley face and the sad face. We have yet to practice with this rubric.

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#8 – I can’t read your mind! Thinking Solution Number Sentence Neatness

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#9 – Be the teacher! (finishing our final task) Students were required to create an “answer key” for their typed up math problems – and they had to show their thinking! It was explained that teachers usually create and use an answer key to help them when they mark.

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#9 – Be the teacher! (finishing our final task) We gave our questions to another grade 2 class from another school. After some more practice and feedback with the answer rubric, students will be ready to “mark” these, using their knowledge that not everyone’s thinking will look the same, and that’s okay!

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