Blog Post Number __Math3___ 

Observation Date(s)__October 3, 2011____________

Part 1 

General Background of Visit –

  • Setting – 3rd grade classroom where all core subjects are taught
  • Number and General Demographics of Students- 15 boys and 9 girls, mostly white class (3 minorities), 1 ELL student, and 2 Special Education students
  • Special Circumstances – early monday morning first lesson taught

Part 2

Focused Observations:

The goals for the students on this day were to to learn how to write expressions from a word problem.  For example, Ben saw 5 butterflies in his garden.  He wanted to get a closer look at the butterflies, but 2 flew away.  How many butterflies are left in his garden?  The expression for this problem would be 5-2.  The students had to first decide if a problem was going to involve addition or subtraction, and then decide which numbers to use in the expression.  Mrs. Steelers Fan passed out word expression strips, an expo marker, and a cloth to each student.  On each word problem, the students had to write the two numbers that were involved and also a plus or subtraction sign.  I think the word expression strips were a really cool tool to use for this activity because the students loved writing their expressions and then raising their answers when everyone completed the problem.  The word expression strips are an example of a concrete model that students can learn to understand writing expressions, which relates to principle 5, using appropriate tools strategically.  The principle states, “these tools might include pencil, paper, concrete models, a ruler, and etc, so the word expression strips are being used as a concrete model and being used similar to paper.

The teacher got the class very excited when she said, “And guess what? We don’t even need to solve the problem! We just have to write the expression.”  The students didn’t really realize that they were still doing work and learning, since they didn’t need to solve the word problem.  I like the way Mrs. Steelers Fan said this to get the children excited.  All that the students needed to do was make “meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them,” which comes directly from principle 2-reasoning abstractly and quantitatively.

I liked how the teacher made a chart on the board which showed key words to decide if a problem was going to be addition or subtraction.  This was a nice visual for the students and they were able to make connections between different problems.  This relates to principle 8 and looking for regularity in repeated reasoning because the students can look at the chart to see if they have solved a problem before that is similar to the problem they are doing at that time.  Making a list on the board is also a type of problem solving strategy, which we learned about in class when doing our pows.

As the teacher went through the different examples and had the students write their answers on their expression strips to hold up, she started helping the students less and less.  By the last few examples, the students were reading the problem and writing their answers all on their own.  The teacher didn’t even say a word when she put the word problems up on the powerpoint.  Having the students work on their own has to do with chapter 3 of VDW because the teacher is letting “the students do the talking” (43).  After the students wrote their expressions, Mrs. Steelers Fan would ask questions like, “how did you know this problem was an addition problem” or “how did you figure out the expression?”, which are examples of having the students do the talking.  As a teacher, I believe that it is very important to have the students do the talking, because if teachers just tell the students the answers then the students are not learning.  The students should make meaning of problems for themselves and understand them.

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