Problem Solving remains the one of the most difficult areas of elementary mathematics to teach. We have created a page that will bring together problem solving strategies for elementary teachers as well as interactive online word problem activities, assessments, and worksheets.

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Problem Solving – The Teachers' Cafe – Common Core Resources

Thinking Blocks Interactive Tutorials – Model and solve word problems with addition and subtraction. Online interactive tutorial. Second Grade and Third Grade. Addition and Subtraction within 20 – Challenge Word Problem Set 1 Word Problem Set 2 Word Problem Set 3 Word Problem Set 4 Word Problem Set...

We hear it as math teachers all the time, “Use real life examples in math problems.” Many of us take the problem given to us in a text book and try to relate it to real life. Sometimes it works, but usually, even though it is a step in the right direction, we are still talking about a two dimensional screen or piece of paper. Today we have access to the internet, camera, and video, so it should be much easier to bring real life into the classroom. Imagine presenting a perimeter problem to a student, but instead of a rectangle and some numbers you show them a video of the yard you want to build a fence around. Ask them to estimate how much fencing you would need to buy. Without ever giving a formula, let them come up with the way to get perimeter.

Math teacher Dan Meyer explains how presenting real-life scenarios through photos and videos makes math problems “irresistible” to students.

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Problem Solving Strategies: Making Math Real – The Teachers' Cafe – Common Core Resources

We hear it as math teachers all the time, “Use real life examples in math problems.” Many of us take the problem given to us in a text book and try to relate it to real life. Sometimes it works, but usually, even though it is a step in the right direction, we are still talking about a two dimensiona...

Ten Frames are used in the primary grades to develop mental math skills, specifically the skill of composing and decomposing the number ten. Being we use a ten based number system, strength in this skill is a must. As you might guess, many students in the intermediate grades need this fundamental skill refreshed or developed for the first time.

Consider purchasing magnetic ten frames for your board or go the free route with a printable for an Elmo (provided in link). Better yet, here are some interactive versions we found. Perfect for a smartboard.

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Interactive Ten Frame – Operations & Algebraic Thinking – The Teachers' Cafe – Common Core Resources

Numbers to Ten on the Ten Frame – Using a two by five array, the Ten Frame supports the use of five as an anchor for early number sense. While this should start in Kindergarten, ten frams are great for developing mental math skills.

There are some amazing Interactive Math Manipulatives online for free! They cover everything and all grade levels. Perfect for Smartboard use with the whole class or at home with a homeschooler.

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Interactive Math Manipulatives – The Teachers' Cafe – Common Core Resources

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives – (K-12) Seperated by grade levels and domains. Everything you need from building shapes, Pentominoes, and Clocks, to Function Machines, Algebra Balance Scales, and Pythagorean Theorem.

Have you tried Number Talks yet in your class? It can be tough for both student and teacher at first, but it is a valuable weapon in any elementary math teacher's bag that pays off in the long run.

The essential idea of Common Core is to develop strong mental math skills. Number Talks are an excellent way to develop students mental math skills while sharing different ways to think about problems.

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Number Talk Videos (1st grade -7th grade) – The Teachers' Cafe – Common Core Resources

The essential idea of Common Core is to develop strong mental math skills. Number Talks are an excellent way to develop students mental math skills while students share different ways to think about problems.Inside Mathematics

What is Common Core Math?

Since its inception in 2009 Common Core has been controversial to say the least. Misconceptions, confusion, resistance to change, and politics has muddied a rather simple idea. Let's take a moment to clear up some misconceptions and answer some common questions.

Misconception: Common Core is the federal government telling the states what to teach.

The states led the development of the Common Core State Standards. This included governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia, came together and decided to develop common, college- and career-ready standards in mathematics and English language arts. They worked through their membership organizations – the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) – to accomplish this. The development process included defining expectations for what every child should know and be able to do when they graduate from high school and then creating content standards for grades K-12 aligned with these expectations. States relied on workgroups of educators, representatives of higher education and other experts to write the standards with significant input from the public in 2009 and 2010. States then appointed a validation committee to review the final standards. The federal government was not involved in the development of the standards. Source: Common Core Standards @: www.corestandards.org/.

With the technical information out of the way the simpler reason for the Common Core is to raise the standards taught to prepare students for the modern world. The United States has fallen behind, particularly in math and science. The Common Core makes the much overdue shift in math from memorization to understanding.

Misconception: Common Core Math is "new" math.

In fact, most of it is quite old. For various reasons math over the last 70 years has become a series of algorithms and memorized rules. In fact, partial product multiplication (a Common Core method) was the way multiplication was taught in schools until World War II. In order to speed things up for manufacturing, they began teaching the faster algorithm and we have never gone back. Common Core is designed to first build an understanding of mathematical concepts in students and later introduce the memorization of faster algorithms.

Question: What is an algorithm?

Simply put, in math an algorithm is a set of steps designed to solve a problem. A formal definition might be a procedure or formula for solving a problem, based on conducting a sequence of specified actions. When you add or subtract multi-digit numbers and regroup (carrying or borrowing) you are using an algorithm, when you multiply multi-digit numbers and regroup or use long division you are using an algorithm.

Question: Algorithms are faster and easier, right?

For the most part absolutely. This is why they were created. Then why are we delaying teaching students algorithms and forcing different slower methods? Because we have raised generations of Americans who have limited mental math capabilities and limited understanding of math concepts. For example, can you explain what is happening when you do a long division algorithm? Or do you just remember, Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring Down? Or maybe you remember Dead, Monkeys, Smell, Bad. The point is when a student can divide 438 by 6 in their head, using their understanding of place value and math facts, they are becoming mathematically proficient students. When they memorize the algorithm they become good memorizers. Of course at some point in around 8th to 9th grade we give them a calculator. So if you only want to teach for speed, skip right to the calculator.

Misconception:I have seen Common Core question on tests or worksheets and they are ridiculous.

This is impossible. Common Core Standards are just standards, or what students need to be proficient at by a certain grade. Curriculum (books, tests, worksheets) is completly district-based, school-based, and teacher-based. They can be flawed or ridiculous. In addition, just because a teacher is teaching Common Core, it doesn't mean they are doing it well nor doing it right.

Misconception: Students are failing because Common Core is too hard and too different.

The Common Core Standards are indeed more difficult than previous standards.

In order to keep up with the rest of the world, the United States must make the change, one of which includes more rigorous standards in mathematics. Students are not failing at a higher rate, but many teachers and parents are having difficulties learning new or different ways than they were taught as children.

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The Teacher's Cafe will be presenting Common Core Math advice and ideas for teaching today's somewhat complicated Common Core Math. I will focus on K-5, but I will provide some resources for all grades.

If you have any questions about K-5 Common Core Math, ask away. Ask about what it Common Core Math is, why was it implemented, is it Communism, why do they do "it" that way, how do you do "it" that way...

In addition, if you have advice or tips for Common Core Math, please share! The more I learn about math, the less I know, so help me too!🤓

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