It is through solving problems–and discussion around those solutions–that students develop deep understanding of mathematical concepts. When teaching for conceptual understanding, collaborative group work can be a particularly effective instructional method. This is especially true when group work is followed by focused discussions–math talks–which target specific learning goals.
In Room 123, mathematicians are learning to use a problem-solving process in teams. Individually, they analyze a problem and represent the situation using mathematical models. Then they discuss their thinking with their team and make a plan to solve the problem. Next, they use a variety of math tools as they carry out their plan. After reviewing their work, team members justify their thinking using evidence from the problem and show how they solved it. Finally, the teams come together to discuss their findings.
As the year progresses, teams will grapple with increasingly challenging problems. They will also use more efficient strategies and sophisticated models. Below you can see students’ first efforts at working in their problem-solving teams!
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