Building Mathematical Comprehension: Chapter 6 & 7

I'm doubling up this weekend because life got extremely busy for a few days!

Chapter 6 is about using inference and predicting skills in math. As with every other skill, teacher modeling is front and center for teaching students to do this in math class. An important point to remember is that students infer and make predictions all the time; our job is to guide them into doing it on purpose with mathematical text.

I've been musing about about patterns recently, since many believe that teaching patterns in early grades disappeared in the CCSS. Of course patterns are in the Standards for Mathematical Practices. While reading this chapter I realized that predicting and making inferences is key in recognizing patterns and relationships.

Chapter 7 is about determining importance. Three levels of determining importance in what we read are identified as:

  • the word level: vocabulary, and some text features that cue students to word importance
  • the sentence level: does it contain important mathematical words?
  • the idea level: picking out the critical ideas is easier in narrative fiction; students must learn to do this with the mathematical text
I'm planning to create an anchor chart to help me teach students how to break apart a typical word problem. Most of the problems we see involve

  1. The set-up component: the setting, context, situation, and characters are introduced
  2. The information component: the important information for soling the problem is provided as well as some nonessential and even irrelevant facts
  3. The question component: informs the problem solver of the question to be answered.
I was reminded of how important it is to read the problem twice; I'm going to try to regularly model this in whole group. On the second read, students know what the question is and can focus in on what it important. I have seen my students get easily sidetracked by the set - up, particularly since our math text has problems that reference our state. Suddenly I'm fielding questions about the non-essential details :) This chapter is helping me think about how I will teach word problem solving so that students focus on the important parts without getting off-task. I think this will make a big difference for some students, including my struggling readers.

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