Unifix Sequences

Here’s an idea for an independent activity that will help students practice Numeral Identification and Number Sequences.  Write a series of 10 numerals on unifix cubes.  You can use masking tape or garage sale dots if you don’t want to write directly on the unifix cubes.  Different series of numerals can be written of different colors of unifix cubes.  Students sort the cubes by color and then put together the correct sequences.


Problems with Word Problems

Many students have difficulty with word problems.  A series of questions developed by Anne Newman (1977) can help us determine why students make errors with word problems.

1.  Please read the question to me. If you don’t know a word, leave it out.  (Reading)

2.  Tell me what the question is asking you to do.  (Comprehension)

3.  Tell me how you are going to find the answer.  (Transformation – selecting the appropriate mathematical strategy)

4.  Show me what to do to get the answer. “Talk aloud” as you do it, so that I can understand how you are thinking.  (Correctly  performing the mathematical operation)

5.  Now, write down your answer to the question.  (Putting the answer in an acceptable form)

If students are able to complete the 5 steps and still get incorrect answers, they are making careless errors.  Newman’s research found that 70% of student errors were a result of errors in steps 1-3.

Information for this Monday Math Message came from a recent conversation I had and this website –  Newman’s Prompts.  The website includes a video of a student participating in an interview and suggestions for helping students who have difficulties with the first 3 steps of problem solving.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I’m reading Developing Number Knowledge: Assessment, Teaching, and Intervention with 7-11-Year -Olds by Robert J. Wright, David Ellemor-Collins, and Pamela Tabor.  The authors stress the importance of moving students away from counting by one’s to solve problems.  On page 52 they state, “the most commonly observed characteristic of low attaining  mathematics students is a persistent dependence on counting by ones.”  As teachers, we need to provide visual models that will give students opportunities to move away from over-reliance on counting by ones.  At the same time we need to make sure we do not promote strategies that will make students dependent on counting by ones to solve all problems.  Students should not be given problems that require counting on by more than 5.  We can move students away from counting by ones by teaching; doubles, doubles+1, combinations to 5, 5+, combinations to 10, 10+, and combinations to 20.  All of these combinations are taught through the use of visual models and active learning.  Here is a link to a “Ways to Make 5” BINGO Game.


Hello world!

Welcome to Monday Math Message.  I’ll be updating each, ummm, Monday.  This is the second year I’ve shared a math message, each Monday of the school year, with teachers in my district.  Many of them have told me that they share my Monday Math Messages with other people.  So,here it is – a Monday Math Message for the masses. Check back each Monday for a new message (about math).  The Monday Math Message is written by Dawn Dibley, a math trainer from Rosemount, Minnesota.