Lorraine Coombes set her fifth-graders out to “get the goof” in the math problem she had posted on the white board in the front of her classroom.
Her students, gathered in groups of four or five at their desks, put their heads together to figure out what why the answer given to a question was wrong and how to explain it.
Coombes uses a strategy called “Power Teaching” in her classroom at Shallow Brook Intermediate School, in the Northeastern School District. The idea is to minimize teacher talk, get kids using their math vocabulary, talk about what they’re doing and “use themselves as experts to work through problems.”
For example, the class includes a “team huddle,” where Coombes gives the students a problem to solve in their groups. She’ll randomly select a student to report the answer, so it’s important that everyone in the group is involved. Kids can earn points for things like using the proper vocabulary – saying denominator, not “the bottom number.”
Coombes said it’s a sort of “scaffold” approach – she teaches them a skill, they work on it in groups, then they work on their own, but still have the option of seeking help from a classmate if they need it.
“I’ve noticed a lot more students able to draw on the real reasons why we’re doing math,” she said.
Watch the video below to see it in action!
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