Thursday, July 18, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension- Chapter 7

I'm so sad about missing this week's Throwback Thursday with The First Grade Pararde, but I'm determined to not get behind again on my book study posts. Since chapter 8 starts tomorrow, I have to squeeze this bad boy in today!

So here we go...Chapter 7: Determining Importance

Apparently some young adults (and probably full blown adults) still don't have this skill down, because as Sammons touches upon later in the chapter, you often find college students who highlight every last sentence on their page in a zillion different colors just hoping that the important stuff is going to stick. What they get is just a really colorful, very expensive textbook. 

 (picture from the Sharpie blog)
The strategy of determining importance can be taught by reminding students that:

1. Determining importance happens at the word, sentence, and idea level.
  • At the word level students need to be aware of mathematical vocabulary and their meaning as related to the task/topic. (200)

  • At the sentence level students understand that important words often mean important sentence. (200)

  • At the idea level students are guided through navigation of details so they can hone in on the significant idea. (201)
2. Determining what is important is will be based on-
  • the purpose and/or goal of the task at hand
  • the student's background knowledge 
  • the student's knowledge of word problem structure
  • the ideas shared during discussion and collaboration
3. Mathematicians are able to explain their reasoning when deciding on important information. (204)

4. Mathematicians evaluate the validity of text and information as they determine importance. (205)
  • This is developed as students discuss, examine, and interpret data with others. 
5. Students use their important information to solve problems. 
  • Remember, the goal is increased understanding, not expertise and using the Determining Importance strategy itself. 
How To:
Here's what we all really want to know. How to teach this strategy. Here are some ideas from Sammons.

Teach students to skim over text before reading. Locate the important words and the question first so students have an idea of what to expect. (207)

Students need to be taught how to highlight. Don't just hand them highlighters and let them go at it. Remember those rainbow textbooks I mentioned at the beginning...yah...we don't want those. Be sure to model highlighting!! (208)

Read a Little, Think a Little
Break the mathematical text into chunks. In a word problem this means going sentence by sentence. Pause after each chunk to carefully consider the text. Have students put the chunks into their own words. This make retrieval later much easier! (209)

Build on the Concrete
Sammons gave a great concrete example for determining importance from the book Comprehension Connections by Tammy McGregor. You use a strainer and a pot with water and spaghetti to show how your brain lets the less important things fall through only to catch the really important stuff. Life in 4B has some great pictures and an anchor chart. Click a pic to be taken to her fab post. 

Math Stretches
No chapter would be complete without some math stretch ideas. This one is the "What's Most Important About _____?"

Students add what they think is most important about that topic. Once everyone has responded you can discuss with the whole group. This would be when you clear up any misconceptions and make confirmations as to the important details of that topic.  

Brenda over at Primary Inspired talked about this pin that she had found when covering chapter 6.

I loved the idea and I think it could work for this stretch too. I'm thinking of making some Velcro titles so that I can change the response questions. Pictures of that coming soon hopefully. 

Problem Solving
Make sure students are familiar with the structure of word problems.

Usually the first sentence sets the context...
The second sentence gives the facts...
The last sentence asks the question...

Be sure students understand this is a guideline and that some word problems will be structured differently.   

Whew! Glad to be caught up. Hopefully I'll stay on track and see you next week for another chapter and a throwback on Thursday. Maybe even for my first Monday Made It of the summer! That's so embarrassing to admit...I can't believe it!

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