The Answer Is....

During Math Rotations, my students move through a Problem Solving station.  While I have them working on their Two Ways of Problem Solving, I also wanted them to think about how math works just a bit.

So, while searching on Pinterest (of course!), I came across this pin and I just *knew* that I wanted to incorporate something like this in my room.  Here is my interpretation of what I saw.

On Monday, I place an answer onto the pocket chart.  I have been starting simple so far and have done "5 hats" and "9 dogs".  Well....let me rephrase that....I started with what I *thought* was simple ;)
To set up the board, I put the answer I am looking for at the top.  Each student has an index card with their classroom number written on it.  When they have finished writing the four different ways to come about that answer (using the four different operations), the students choose their "best" question, write it on the index card and turn it backwards on the pocket chart.  This way, I know they are done AND the rest of the kids can see their ideas.  Win-win!

I gave my students a recording sheet where they had to write one addition, one subtraction, one multiplication, and one division problem.

Now, in my mind, it was clear that they had to write a word problem.  How else would you get the answer "5 hats" if you didn't have some sort of word problem involving hats?

It wasn't so clear to my students. 

They were writing regular number sentences and then just writing hats on the end.

1 + 4 = 5 hats
5/1 = 5 hats
5 x 1 = 5 hats
6 - 1 = 5 hats

Yeah...not exactly what I was going for.

I decided that a mini-lesson on key words in word problems was necessary.  We filled in a little mini- anchor chart that they can keep in their math notebooks with words that they will see in word problems. (I found this cute anchor chart that I used in my room)  Then, we wrote a few together.  This actually made it click as to what I was looking for in The Answer Is....

The next week, when the answer was 9 dogs, more and more word problems with the key words were popping up.
So many more kids finished this week!
The depth of their problems was also much better on week two.  The kids tried to be a little more creative in their math to get to the answer.

So far, I am really enjoying having this as a part of the Problem Solving rotation.  It is getting the students thinking and really realizing that there are multiple ways to arrive at the same destination!

What is something you have added into your problem solving section of your math block this year?


  1. This is such an awesome idea!!! Thank you for sharing! :)

  2. ooooo...I love this Stephanie!! And it seems like it would be really easy to implement. Thank you so much for sharing the document and anchor chart, they will be a big help :)

  3. I am moving inroads BRAND SPANKIN' NEW classroom next weekend and I am soooo using this!!!!! Love the higher level thinking on this!!!!

  4. What a great idea! I'm adding this station to my math rotations next week.

  5. Love this idea Stephanie! Critical thinking, operations and problem solving all in one!

    Wild About Fifth

  6. I've been thinking about how to organize a word problem station with math centers. The pocket chart with assigned class numbers is a great way to organize it. Thank you for sharing!
    Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans

  7. 32 students?! Bless your heart:-)
    I love this idea and how students who need support can look to their peer's examples. Stephanie, do you ever have a problem with students copying problems without putting thought into the math? How do you address this?

    1. So far, no. But it is early on in the process. I am thinking that there isn't much room to copy, with the way I have it set up and the time issue. So it may not come up. But if it does, I will problem solve then ;)

  8. I am so happy I found this blog! I love your idea for Problem Solving. Tomorrow will mark the first day of full implementation of Common Core State Standards and I'm spinning with what to do for my rotations. For the past 5 years I was confident and knew exactly where my students needed to be but now, I'm overwhelmed. I think I will be spending hours on this site. The support the students provide eachother creates that sense of community we are want in our classes! Thank you!

  9. Thank you for sharing! I used a variation of this activity with my students, and it really livened up math class.

  10. We've done this as a whole class activity called "Here's the answer. What's the question?" But I LOVE how you keep each student accountable by having them use all 4 operations & then using their student number to "publish" their best word problem! I'm definitely adding this to my math choices!! Thanks,Stephane!!

  11. This is awesome! I want (hopefully before June-haha) to create interactive centers. This would be a great one. I have a few questions. How do you keep them accountable? Do you grade each one? Where might you take this to challenge your GATE students? Oh I just love this and reading your blog. I might be your number one reader these days. Hope to start the morning message soon too. My kids are the type that will LOVE it! :)
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    1. To keep them accountable, they have the recording sheet (linked above) that they fill in. That is turned in weekly. I also (starting this week) have a check off list so that they can see which ones they finished as well. I don't grade it individually, as it is turned in with the entire week's Math Rotations packet. That, as a whole, is graded. This is part of that grade though. For the GATE students, you may want to require multi-step problems. So they can't just say, "Tom has 5 dogs and gets two more. How many does he have now?" It would have to be more elaborate and involve more than one step.

  12. I love the structure of your math workshops. I have begun using them in my classroom. I have purchased your calendar math and spiral work for 5th grade. Do you have available the word doc. form for the structure (you provide the pdf link). I would love to edit to use for my lesson planning so I can put urls right in my plans. Thanks! Amazing resources!!


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