Ask learners to share the problem
This is such a valuable stage of the process. Sharing maths problems not only helps your learners feel proud of their work, it also offers them the opportunity to provide support to their friends and to evaluate the problem for a second time.
There are a number of ways to share maths problems in the classroom. Here are a few of our favourites.
1. Shared journals
Once a problem has been written, learners can take turns completing the problems in their maths journals. Taking someone else’s work away in a learner’s own journal can raise lots of points for discussion.
Why have they completed the problem this way?
If they were to change one part of the problem, which would it be and why?
In order to get better at writing their own problems, children need to see well-written problems or get the opportunity to critique a problem and discuss what could make it better.
Learners willing to share their own journals with others in their class can allow this to happen.
2. Class-to-class story books
Take the idea of a shared problem one step further by asking learners to write maths stories for the year below. These stories can have a central theme, but should rely on maths problems to work through the book. This continuation of a maths idea (in this case, looking at the previous year’s objectives) shows children that maths isn’t a series of isolated lessons. There is continuity and connections within mathematical ideas.
Children also love being read to by their peers. It can prompt questions from those being read to and the authors of the stories sometimes provide valuable support. Particularly since the reader may have recently been in the same position as the learner, they’re well placed to recognise the misconceptions they overcame when looking at the same idea initially.
3. Shared problem space
In the same way we use community boards to post notices for parents and the wider school community, we can set up shared problem boards within the school.
One way of doing this is to place these boards in Key Stage areas. You can post the problem on the board but also print it out to make it available for learners to take home. This gives students the opportunity to complete the problem and return it to the author or authors. These solutions can be posted alongside the original problem demonstrating the many different approaches learners take.
4. Mum and dad’s maths
Making a point of celebrating differences in approaches to maths and bringing family members into the experience can be valuable and rewarding. A great homework task is to set a question in a standard representation. For example:
43 x 28 or 12 x 1/2
Asking family members to complete the same problem as the learner can create a great deal of discussion when the representations are different.
It may also be the case that a family member is unsure of how to complete the problem. This would give your learner an opportunity to show their understanding to their family members and also show the strength of a collaborative approach.