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Chapter 5 – Option 3 (Action)

02/14/2020 9:22 PM | Karen Campe

Try one of the techniques from the chapter in your teaching, such as the routine “I think _______ is unreasonable because _______” (pages 90-91) or one of the variations of “My Favorite No” (pages 96-101).  You might need to try it a few times to get your students used to the routines (and if you are lucky enough to have a colleague who is also willing to try, plan together and discuss results).  Tell us how it went.


  • 02/21/2020 2:20 PM | Alison Foley
    I tried the "I think _________ is unreasonable because ______" routine on pages 90-91 with a group of ten fifth graders. I followed the routine just like in the book by listing all the students' estimates first and then asking them to choose an unreasonable answer. At first, students were very hesitant to pick one that is unreasonable (even though there were a few obvious ones listed) - I think they did not want to embarrass their fellow classmates. I had to take a break from the number talk and do a number talk "on the side" about reasonable and not reasonable - I modeled how to decide if an answer was reasonable or not. We also discussed the ideas from chapter four - how mistakes help us learn. This number talk "on the side" helped them to feel comfortable when we returned to the first problem. Students were able to choose answers that were not reasonable and justify why. The next day, I did the routine again and it went much smoother. I definitely recommend this technique as it is a great way for students to practice their estimation strategies and consider their own responses' reasonableness as well as the reasonableness of others.
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    • 03/23/2020 9:55 PM | Karen Campe
      Alison, your modeling is a really important step! It helps students realize that it isn't all about the answers, and to get comfortable with being a "critical friend" to their classmates as you decide together what is reasonable or not.
      A fun game I played with my family this weekend is called "Wits and Wagers". Everyone guesses an answer to a numerical trivia question, for example: "How fast can the fastest fish swim in miles per hour?" or "How many Hershey's Kisses can be made from a pound of chocolate?". Then, we line up the proposed answers in order and each player bets in which interval the actual answer lies. Obviously, this is different than solving math problems, however, I think the general idea might work in math class too.
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  • 03/14/2020 8:55 AM | Stacey Daly
    Last year in my district we started doing error analysis with our students in grades 3 - 5 in a similar manner to the "My Favorite No". We choose an error made by a student and rewrite it on a form that one of the math coaches created. After looking at the student work, we ask "What is the error?" followed by "Why do you think they made that error? (What is it that they don’t understand?)" and then "What suggestion would you give to this student to help them with a similar problem?" I have used this format in several grade 4 and 5 classrooms this year. I find the students can recognize the error but have a really hard time with answering why the error was made. They tend to just say "He didn't check his work carefully" or "She worked too quickly." In reading the section about Muhammad's class using the My Favorite No strategy, I really like the idea of starting with a discussion about what was good about the work and then where the error came from. I am going to recreate our error analysis as I think discussing the positives about the student work first will lead to what we were trying to have students do in figuring out why the error was made or what the misconception is that led to the error.
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    • 03/23/2020 9:59 PM | Karen Campe
      I agree, "My Favorite No" is a powerful technique to use when discussing errors in math class. I like the focus on the positive--in my work with students, we often discuss "the kernel of truth" in their work when we are dealing with errors.
      The HS textbook series that my students use frequently has 1 or 2 "error analysis" questions in the homework exercises. We always discuss these, partly to highlight common mistakes, and mostly to normalize the idea that mistakes help us learn.
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