December 3, 2009
My Annual Observation: A Math Problem Solving Lesson

Recently, I posted the lesson plans for my annual observation, which addressed problem solving in math. It was an incredibly successful observation, perhaps my most successful in my six years of teaching.

Starting out the lesson, I felt incredibly relaxed, even though sometimes I consider math to be my nemesis. Making real-life connections with my students helped them to understand the importance of the lesson. From there, sharing examples and non-examples guided my students to improve the quality of their problem solving explanations. Most importantly, having the students create their own multiple choice problems addressed the area of synthesis in Bloom's Taxonomy.

Having the students explain their reasoning to one another in small groups opened many doors for a thought-provoking class discussion at the end of the lesson. When I asked my students what they had learned from the lesson, their responses were:

(Sigh intended) "I NEVER REALIZED THERE WERE SO MANY WAYS TO SOLVE ONE PROBLEM!"

"I was able to be a student teacher to those in my group who did not understand the problem."

"I was able to see others' pictures and understand new ways to solve problems."

As promised, I am sharing some photos of student work.

**Selective highlighting**:

**Students working together to solve problems**:

**Student solutions for problems I printed out** (problems taken from ThinkLink and FCAT practice):

**Students writing out their own multiple choice questions**:

A final caveat: Never underestimate the power of intermediate students!

Recently, I posted the lesson plans for my annual observation, which addressed problem solving in math. It was an incredibly successful observation, perhaps my most successful in my six years of teaching.

Starting out the lesson, I felt incredibly relaxed, even though sometimes I consider math to be my nemesis. Making real-life connections with my students helped them to understand the importance of the lesson. From there, sharing examples and non-examples guided my students to improve the quality of their problem solving explanations. Most importantly, having the students create their own multiple choice problems addressed the area of synthesis in Bloom's Taxonomy.

Having the students explain their reasoning to one another in small groups opened many doors for a thought-provoking class discussion at the end of the lesson. When I asked my students what they had learned from the lesson, their responses were:

(Sigh intended) "I NEVER REALIZED THERE WERE SO MANY WAYS TO SOLVE ONE PROBLEM!"

"I was able to be a student teacher to those in my group who did not understand the problem."

"I was able to see others' pictures and understand new ways to solve problems."

As promised, I am sharing some photos of student work.

**Selective highlighting**:

**Students working together to solve problems**:

**Student solutions for problems I printed out** (problems taken from ThinkLink and FCAT practice):

**Students writing out their own multiple choice questions**:

A final caveat: Never underestimate the power of intermediate students!