Solving Math Problems with 6th Graders

This post is cross-posted at the MACUL conference blog.

Another jam packed TWICE room (W2-66), this time with Danielle Letter, from Atkins Elementary in Saginaw, MI. We videoconferenced with 6th graders back in Atkins Elementary.

Here’s Danielle’s handout.

Danielle is giving us an experience with the type of videoconference called Math Maniacs. The kids read some math problems to us. We divided into groups and solved the problems while the students worked on solving some other math problems. Then we read some problems to the students… Some of the problem titles were:

  • Toothpick Problem
  • The Million Mystery

Danielle: Are you ready?

Kids: No, we’re not! This is HARD! They’re teachers!!

Both sides muted the microphone and worked on their math problems.

Danielle: All you need to do this is two classes, and some math problems. You can do it over videoconferencing, or Skype, or with an overhead projector with the class next door in your class. A document camera (Elmo, AverMedia, etc.) is helpful to share the math problem with the other site.

95% of what we learn is when we’re teaching someone else. So the students are teaching other students how they are solving their math problems.

Why do we use problem solving?

  • Because of the collaboration
  • Can be open ended
  • Can be not one right answer
  • Appeals to many learning styles
  • Encourages multiple strategies to solve the problem
  • Promotes stamina

Then we tried to solve our problems. Lots of quality work time, brainstorming and problem solving at both sites. See how one of the groups solved the toothpick problem.

After that, the 6th graders explained to us how they solved their problems, and we explained how we solved our problems. We learned about strategies guess and check, drawing a chart, acting it out…

Some student quotes on why they like problem solving:

  • It’s really good because you don’t just come up with the answer with a calculator. You use your mind by yourself and you feel really good. I like it because of the accomplishment.
  • I like it because it’s challenging. You have to do it over and over again until you get it. But you keep trying and get it and you realize that it’s worth finding the solution to it.

Nothing like hearing in the words of a kid!

At the end, our teachers didn’t want to share their answers, and the 6th graders said that we were camera shy. Everyone laughed!

Thanks Danielle, for showing us the cool ways to engage kids in teaching others and solving problems.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.