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Observation and recording of a problem based maths lesson

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Unit/Lesson Title Stage 2 Aim for the lesson: To change students perception of problem solving lessons by working systematically through a problem and having the students more engaged.

Prior Knowledge Most students have had experience problem solving. They have knowledge of numbers and rules of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. The students know how to use objects and diagrams to explore mathematical problems.

Year 4 Syllabus Outcomes MA2-2WM selects and uses appropriate mental or written strategies, or technology, to solve problems. MA2-8NA generalises properties of odd and even numbers, generates number patterns, and completes simple number sentences by calculating missing values. MA2-5NA uses mental and written strategies for addition and subtraction involving two-, three-, four- and five-digit numbers. Resources Smart-board with problem based activity pre-loaded Class set of individual whiteboards and whiteboard markers Class set of the problem typed on paper Highlighters 3 gym mats Envelopes containing: 3 pieces of card to represent yards, 24 cut out sheep, set of the rules of the problem (enough sets for 1 per pair of students) Digital camera Sheep herding video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBhAk1oQisw Assessment [ELPSARA: Assessment] Teacher questioning to determine understanding of problem by students

Learning Experiences (include details about class-organisation and teaching strategies, where relevant) Introduction (Engagement) Have the class seated on the floor in front of the smart-board. The teacher lets students know they are going to be working on a problem based activity. [ELPSARA: Experience and Language] Ask if any students have been to a farm? Have they seen sheep? Have they seen dogs herding sheep? Explain that some farmers use dogs to help herd sheep into pens. Show the YouTube video of a dog herding sheep into a pen. (Using Polyas model) Rule 1: Read and Understand the Problem Introduce problem to children Before we start our problem I want you to understand what the problem is about. Start the smart-board activity, read Hi kids. I (the farmer) have a problem that needs solving, do you think you can help? Introduce the problem: 24 sheep have to be shepherded into three different pens of different sizes. Each pen must contain a different even number of sheep. The smallest pen must contain the smallest number of sheep and the largest pen must contain the largest number of sheep. How many sheep might the dog try to get into each pen? Find as many different ways as you can. Discuss with the students what it means to solve a problem systematically, that is step by step, in order. Warm up activity: display a range of odd and even numbers on the smart-board and have children sort them into odd and even, writing

EMM209 assignment 1

their results on individual whiteboards to practice what an even number is. Have students sit at their desks and give each student a sheet of paper with the problem written on it. Have the students highlight the mathematical words to expose the problem. Question children to help such as Do you think the word sheep is important?...... no it could be dogs, elephants or cars in a car park. Do you think the number is important? What else is important? To help scaffold the students to understand the problem they are asked. Have students move to the hall where three gym mats are placed on the floor to represent the pens. Have children be the sheep and place them in pens to act out the problem. Place 2 students on first mat, then 2 in second pen and question Does that meet the rules?, when students have responded correctly, then place 2 more (for a total of 4 in pen), then 18 in last pen. Use think aloud to ask Lets check this against the rules, a different even number of sheep in each pen, the smallest number in the smallest pen and the largest number in the largest pen. Weve found one possibility 2, 4, 18. Ask what the students would like to do for the next possibility, would they change the number of sheep in the smallest pen or the middle pen? Wait for responses then move 2 students from largest pen into the middle pen, recount out loud 2, 6, and 16. Move back to the classroom. Body (Exploration/Transformation/Presentation) [ELPSARA: Pictorial representation] Have students work at their desks, in pairs. Provide each pair with an envelope containing 3 pens, 24 sheep and a copy of the rules of the problem. Rule 2: Make a plan Explain how the card and sheep cut-outs represent the sheep and the pens. Discuss the answer found in the hall for the number in each pen and tell students I want you to find as many answers as you can with only 2 sheep in the smallest pen, start with what we did in the hall 2 in the smallest pen, 4 in the middle.. Tell the students to record their answers in a table form on paper. [ELPSARA: Application of knowledge] Rule 3: Carry out the plan Have the children work on the problem while the teacher moves around the room questioning students to assess their understanding of the problem and see if they are on track with their results. Ask questions such as Does it meet the rules? Have we got all the possibilities? How do we know? Take photographs of some solutions (correct and incorrect) to display on the smart-board at the conclusion of the lesson. Extension activity for students who finish early: change the problem to 51 sheep and a different odd number of sheep in each pen. Conclusion (Presentation/Reflection) Have students sit on floor in front of smart-board to discuss the lesson. [ELPSARA: Reflection] Rule 4: Looking Back Discuss what we have done in the lesson, dividing sheep into different pens to see how many ways we could organise the sheep. That we worked systematically to get the answers. Display the photos on the smart-board and have children tell you which ones are correct and which arent and why (repeat the rules when the give the reason does or doesnt meet our rules of the problem).

EMM209 assignment 1

Ask students for their solutions and write down all the solutions found on the smart-board, check that they have found them all. If they havent then make suggestions such as if we had 6 sheep in the first pen, how many might be in the other pens? to lead students to the other solutions. [ELPSARA: Symbolic representation] Then display examples of solutions in numerical forms such as: 2+4+18, 2+6+16, 2+8+14, 2+10+12, 4+6+14, 4+8+12, 4+10+10, 4+12+8, 6+8+10 and 6+10+8. Have students tell you which solutions are correct/ incorrect and why. E.g. 4+12+8 is wrong as we cant have 12 in the middle pen as the larger number must be in the largest pen. Was this one of our rules? Thats right the largest number must be in the largest pen. End activity on smart-board with the farmer coming back and thanking students Thanks Year 4, with your help I will be able to arrange the sheep in 7 different ways Discuss that today we have worked on a problem and worked out a strategy to solve the problem. So we have been using our problemsolving skills. Ask whether students enjoyed the activity (as this was our aim, to have them enjoy problem-solving). Discuss that we used a model to work out the problem and that it is important in our maths to be able to work out problems and that some people were able to work out the problem without the model as they were able to do it all with just the numbers. We followed a set of rules, which we do when we work mathematically. Tell them you hope they enjoyed the task and that it gives them a better perception of problembased activities and helps them with ideas on how to approach other problems in the future.

2.

EMM209 assignment 1

Problem-based learning(PBL) is a teaching method whereby students learn through facilitated problem solving. Learning is based on open-ended questions that have more than one answer (Hmelo-Silver, 2004). Children are encouraged to become autonomous learners, teachers are the facilitators and coordinators rather than just the providers of knowledge (Bobis et al). For PBL to be effective the problem presented should be relevant and/or interesting so the students want to solve it. The problem should contain rich mathematics, be able to be solved in more than one way and be achievable for the students (Carmichael, 2013). The lesson (Davies, 2006) has these features, however I dont feel the students were given enough introduction to the problem to have them properly engaged. In my lesson plan I have included a discussion about farms and sheep and shown a quick video of sheep being herded by a dog, to give the students more of a feel for the task they are about to complete. PBL allows students to explore, hypothesise, prove, generalise and publish. They actually do mathematics (Hmelo-Silver, 2004). I think problembased learning is a great way to teach students as they are actively involved in the lesson, as long as they have adequate numeracy skills. By working on real life problems, such as the one in this lesson (Davies, 2006), the learning of relevant mathematical skills and strategies is done in a meaningful context (Westwood, 2011). The PBL learning cycle follows the ELPSARA model (Carmichael, 2013), the language model, and also adheres to Polyas model (Davies, 2006), as shown by the steps in the lesson plan in bold. The lesson (Davies, 2006) follows the ELPSARA model as follows:

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EMM209 assignment 1

Experience and language are covered by the introduction where students are given background information about the problem and their own experiences are called upon, to make the problem relevant to them. Through the discussion language development occurs (Carmichael, 2013). The teacher discussed the problem to be solved and the children analysed the words in the problem to pull out the mathematical facts. Once the language is understood the next stage of ELPSARA is pictorial representation. The lesson (Davies, 2006) uses pieces of card and cut-out sheep as the pictorial representation of the problem. At this point in the lesson (Davies, 2006), the ELPSARA order changes, instead of symbolic representation occurring next, it actually occurs at the end of the lesson when the teacher provides the maths problem such as 4+8+12 and asks the children to determine which answers are correct. However the ELPSARA model often does not happen in linear order as learning is complex and unpredictable and as such, elements of the model should be thought of as interrelated and overlapping (Carmichael, 2013). The next step in ELPSARA is the application of knowledge. The students take what they learnt through physically acting out the model, and apply this knowledge to the problem to work out a solution. When the solution has been found, the lesson (Davies, 2006) moves on to the next

part of the model, reflection. Here they look back at the problem, look at how they solved it and the tools or strategies they have used. The lesson (Davies, 2006) didnt really have much reflection or a conclusion to the lesson. They simply said yes we have found the answers. This is

not sufficient for the students to understand the process they have undertaken as reflecting and communicating are powerful elements in helping students learn successfully (Andrews & Trafton, 2002). Instead there should be further discussion of what, how and why they did what they did during the lesson and discuss what they have learnt and what all the solutions to the problem were, such as the conclusion I have included in the lesson plan.

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EMM209 assignment 1

The final stage of ELPSARA is assessment. This is covered by formative assessment of the students throughout the lesson. By the teacher questioning and observing the students work, assessment is able to occur. Language is important in maths. The 4 stages of language (Carmichael, 2013) are used in the correct order in the lesson (Davies, 2006) as follows: Childrens language the children became the sheep and acted out the problem. Materials language the card pens and cut out sheep to work out the problem. Maths language the children made a table of their answers. Symbolic language the teacher showed examples of solution on the smart-board in numerical form e.g. 4+8+12.

In conclusion, PBL is a pedagogical technique that situates learning in complex problem-solving contexts. It provides students with opportunities to consider how the facts they acquire relate to a specific problem at hand (Hmelo-Silver, 2004). The problem-based approach has been shown to give diverse learners a chance to use different strategies to solve the problems (Ridlon, 2009). However, the use of scaffolds may positively impact student performance, and within PBL, they appear to have an important role in enhancing student performance (Simons & Klein,2007). Perhaps a balanced approach is the way to go, where problem-based learning is scaffolded by the teacher to make it suitable for all learners by ensuring they have adequate number skills to approach the problem (Westwood,2011).

EMM209 assignment 1

References Andrews, A. G., & Trafton, P. R. (2002). Little kids powerful problem solvers. In Little kids powerful problem solvers: math stories from a kindergarten classroom (pp. 3-5).Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Carmichael, C. (2013) EMM209 Lecture 1: Teaching versus tutoring. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved 15 July 2013 from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/EMM209_201360_A_I/page/15695db8-c226-49a8-0077-480492e7bbe4 Carmichael, C. (2013) EMM209 Lecture 2: Working Mathematically [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved 22 July 2013 from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/EMM209_201360_A_I/page/15695db8-c226-49a8-0077-480492e7bbe4 Carmichael, C. (2013) EMM209 Module 1 notes. Retrieved 17 July 2013 from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/EMM209_201360_A_I/page/15695db8-c226-49a8-0077-480492e7bbe4 Davies, Y. (Executive Producer). (2006). KS1/2 maths problem solving 1 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://teacherstv.com.au/Video/242 Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2004). Problem-based learning: What and how do students learn? Educational Psychology Review, 16(3): 235-266. Ridlon C.L. (2009) Learning mathematics via a problem-centered approach: A two-year study, Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 11(4): 188-225. DOI: 10.1080/10986060903225614 Simons, K., & Klein, J. (2007). The impact of scaffolding and student achievement levels in a problem-based learning environment. Instructional Science, 35(1), 41-72. doi:10.1007/s11251-006-9002-5 Westwood, P. (2011) The problem with problems: Potential difficulties in implementing problem-based learning as the core method in primary school mathematics, Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 16(1): 5-18. DOI: 10.1080/19404158.2011.563475

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