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Transforming Teacher Learning to Student Learning
Sue Lampkin - Mountain View, California - Kenneth E. Slater Elementary School
What first grade math teachers need to know

Addition and Subtraction
Problem Solving
Applying math knowledge to teaching practice

Looking closely at student learning

Faculty learning in collaboration

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Sue Lampkin and Slater School

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Case Development:
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

My colleague Alice McNally and I commiserate that our first graders so often misinterpret story problems that we present in class. "What were they thinking?!" we ask each other. I present these clips to demonstrate that even experienced, well-meaning teachers like Alice and myself run into real glitches from time to time. The clips below demonstrate the challenge of creating the appropriate numerical or non-algorithmic approach that serves to solve a problem while the students remain clear on what it is they are attempting to find out. In order for that to happen, I realized that I needed to be much more knowledgeable about the various ways that problems are constructed and presented to children.

Familiarity with a strategy trumps the actual language of the word problem?

teacher with students

My students are working with the problem:

 

"Jane found six snails. Madeline found three more snails than Jane. How many did they find in all?"

Notice that my students offered "6+3=9" as the solution, focusing on the numbers presented in the problem and not thinking deeply about what exactly was being asked of them.
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A manipulative model distracts instead of assists the students?

student working

Alice's students are working with a chart and placing manipulatives in an ordered manner to solve:

"Jackie had four cubes. Andrea had two more cubes than Jackie. How many cubes did Andrea have?"

 

Notice that the visual clue of the manipulatives overrode the actual question presented in the problem.

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