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Are You Using This Genius Strategy for Math Writing?

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Are You Using This Genius Strategy for Math Writing?

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Writing about math helps kids to organize their thinking, use key vocabulary, and communicate mathematically—which leads to deep and meaningful understanding.

Over the past few years, math teachers are incorporating more writing activities into their lesson plans—a trend that is being driven by the use of highly engaging think-notice-wonder writing prompts that spark deep mathematical discussion and are highly effective as warm-up or cool-down activities. 

This strategy has recently been endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:

By asking What do you notice? What do you wonder? we give students opportunities to see problems in big-picture ways, and discover multiple strategies for tackling a problem. Self-confidence, reflective skills, and engagement soar, and students discover that the goal is not to be "over and done," but to realize the many different ways to approach problems.

How does it work?

Math teachers often struggle to find topics for their kids to write about. Sometimes the best way to encourage creativity and exploration is simply posting an image and asking students to describe what they think, notice, and wonder about what they are seeing.

The best way to use think-notice-wonder activities is to choose an image every day and project it as large as you can at the front of your classroom.

Then, have students write 3 sentences about the image starting with:

      •     I think…

      •     I notice…

      •     I wonder…

✔  You may want to have students share their entries in a daily math journal. This practice will get them used to writing about mathematics regularly.

✔  Try not to give too many prompts. You’ll be surprised by how creative and detailed student responses will become over time!

✔  Try to choose images that work with the day’s topic/theme

What would think-notice-wonder look like in YOUR classroom?

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Imagine an unusual day where your kids enter class expecting a normal warm-up practice problem but are caught by surprise.

They see the above image of a drone delivering a pizza displayed on the board along with a writing prompt that calls for them to complete the statements I think..., I notice..., and I wonder...

What kind of creative thoughts and ideas would they have?

How much weight can the drone carry? How many pizzas can it hold at once?

How would thinking about this image activate their prior knowledge and spark their curiosity?

What are the dimensions of the largest and smallest pizza box it can hold? Does it have to be square?

What kind of anticipation would it build for an upcoming lesson or activity?

Does the drone use GPS coordinates to get from point to point?

Why Think-Notice-Wonder?

Engaging in think-notice-wonder writing activities at the start of a math class is a great way to ignite student thinking, spark creativity, and build anticipation.

Even if students are not directly engaged in mathematical problem-solving, their curiosity and interest will carry on throughout the day’s lesson.

Be mindful that your kids will need some time to get used to these kinds of activities, but after a week or so, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the spike in engagement, boost in student enthusiasm and high quality of responses!

Are you ready to try it with your kids?

Here are a few more sample graphics for you to try in your classroom:

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Want more? Download 101 Daily Think-Notice-Wonder Writing Prompts for Engaging Your Kids

You can now share 101 Daily Think-Notice-Wonder Writing Prompts with your kids with our PDF workbook!

 
 

Do you have experience using think-notice-wonder activities with your math students? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!

(Never miss a Mashup Math blog--click here to get our weekly newsletter!)

By Anthony Persico

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Anthony is the content crafter and head educator for YouTube's MashUp Math and an advisor to Amazon Education's 'With Math I Can' Campaign. You can often find me happily developing animated math lessons to share on my YouTube channel . Or spending way too much time at the gym or playing on my phone.

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Why You Should Be Using WODB to Ignite Student Thinking in Math

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Why You Should Be Using WODB to Ignite Student Thinking in Math

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Great math teachers know that the first five minutes of class are the most important—if you don't engage your kids early, then you'll be struggling to gain their attention for the entire class.

But finding fun and engaging warm-up activities can be challenging, as students can quickly become bored with routine and repetitive practice problems

If you are looking to make your math warm-ups more visual and thought-provoking, then starting your lessons with Which One Doesn’t Belong? (WODB) activities is a great strategy for instantly sparking creative and critical student thinking that will last for the entire lesson.

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How do WODB activities work? 

Instead of working on practice problems during a lesson's warm-up, students will observe and reflect upon a graphic displaying four images. They will then apply their mathematical and reasoning skills to decide which of the four items does not belong and also justify why their choice is valid.

 

Are WODB activities like visual multiple choice questions? 

Nope.

WODB activities do not have a single correct answer. These graphics are designed to be interpreted in a variety of different ways in order to spark deep mathematical thinking and discussion (in small groups, whole class, or both).

Here's an Example:

Consider the graphic below and the different responses by Students A, B, and C.

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Student A says: I think 27 doesn’t belong because it is the only value that is not divisible by four. Also, 27 is the only odd number in the group.

Student B says: I think 64 doesn’t belong because all of the other numbers are either a perfect square or a perfect cube, but 64 is both!

Student C says: I think 16 doesn’t belong because it is not a perfect cube and the other three are.

Notice that all three students have engaged in deep mathematical thinking and their curiosity and interest will carry on throughout the day’s lesson!

As teacher, you can steer this discussion in a variety of directions by asking follow-up questions like:

What justification could you use to say that 8 doesn’t belong?

What other justifications could student A have used to decide that 27 does not belong?

How can students A, B, and C all be correct even though they each chose different values?

 What topics and grade levels are WODB activities best suited for?

WODB activities can be used for all grade levels and topics. The graphics can be topic/lesson specific or more broad and open-ended. Remember, the idea is to spark enough student thinking, interest, and curiosity at the beginning of your lesson to last for the entire class!

Are you ready to give it a try?

Here are a few free graphics for you to try with your kids!

Looking for more? Download your 101 WODB Warm-Up Activities for Grades 1-9 eBook!

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Looking for more?

You can now share 101 daily WODB warm-up activities for grades 1-9 with your kids with our PDF workbook!

And for more inspiration, graphics, and ideas check out Mary Bourassa's WODB website and Christopher Danielson's Which One Doesn't Belong? A Shapes Book.

 
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Do you have experience using WODB activities with your math students? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!

(Never miss a Mashup Math blog--click here to get our weekly newsletter!)

By Anthony Persico

NewBlogImage.png

Anthony is the content crafter and head educator for YouTube's MashUp Math and an advisor to Amazon Education's 'With Math I Can' Campaign. You can often find me happily developing animated math lessons to share on my YouTube channel . Or spending way too much time at the gym or playing on my phone.

 
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