Wonderful opportunities to engage students in enjoying the beauty and products of the season, autumn celebrations are also ripe with themes for various mathematics problems and activities: pumpkins, hay rides, apples, scarecrows, and the changing colors of the leaves. To promote problem solving and critical thinking, the October problems are situated in the context of an elementary school's fall festival.
Each month, elementary teachers receive a problem, along with suggested instructional notes and often a student activity sheet. Teachers are to use the problem in their own classrooms and report solutions, strategies, reflections, and misconceptions to the journal audience. November is election month in the United States. Every four years, opportunities arise for classroom discussions related to selecting the next U.S. president. In elementary school classrooms, mock elections can provide data to use for many mathematical explorations and graphical representations.
Anjali Deshpande and Shannon Guglielmo
Using surveys and focus groups in an inquiry project, the authors learned that four research-based pedagogical moves improved their teaching and inspired students to persist in problem solving.
Several years ago, I was working with a group of high school math teachers. Their assistant principal was impressed with their practice of sharing data from common assessments, assuming that they used these data to drive instruction. However, when I asked the teachers which data they used when teaching, they said that student work and questions during class were much more valuable. Apparently, people may interpret “data-driven instruction” differently. As a mathematics teacher, what data can you collect, and how can you use those data to improve instruction?
James A. Preston
A good problem can capture students' curiosity and can serve many functions in the elementary school classroom: to introduce specific concepts the teacher can build on once students recognize the need for additional mathematics or to help students see where to apply already-learned concepts. We encourage teachers to use the monthly problem in their own classrooms and report solutions, strategies, reflections, and misconceptions to the journal audience.
The April problem scenario from last year requires students to read and interpret data from a table. All classroom teachers are invited to showcase students' in-depth thinking and work on problems previously published in Teaching Children Mathematics.
Amanda Sibley and Terri L. Kurz
Earth Day presents an annual opportunity to discuss sustainability with students. This article describes a six-week unit that integrated sustainability and mathematics at the intermediate elementary school level. Students explored a topic and identified solutions that would support preserving resources for the betterment of our planet. The iSTEM (Integrating Science Technology Engineering in Mathematics) authors share ideas and activities that stimulate student interest in the integrated fields STEM in K—grade 6 classrooms.
Sue McMillen and Beth McMillen
Connecting stories to qualitative coordinate graphs has been suggested as an effective instructional strategy (Blubaugh and Emmons 1999; Maus 2005; NCTM 2000). Even students who are able to create bar graphs may struggle to correctly interpret them. Giving children opportunities to work with qualitative graphs can help them develop the skills to interpret, describe, and compare information from a graph even without the availability of numeric labels. This investigation addresses the Data Analysis and Probability Standard (NCTM 2000) and explores the value of connecting stories with qualitative bar graph instruction, which too often focuses on only counting, tallying, and creating bar graphs.
How Long Can You Stand on One Foot? is a classic problem that has variations in a range of mathematics and physical education curricula. This problem allows students to go through the statistical investigation PCAI process (posing a question, collecting data, analyzing data, and then interpreting data).
This month's problem engages students in statistics, namely descriptive statistics. During the lesson, students will work with two measures of central tendency, the mean and the mode.