Whole Class Problem Solving
You can use ST Math puzzles with the entire class or small groups to discuss student misconceptions, reasoning and how they learned from their mistakes. Project puzzles students are having trouble with or that address a concept that students are struggling with in class. Ask facilitating questions to engage students in thinking about the mathematics in the puzzles. Have students share their thinking, the mistakes they made, and how the feedback from their mistake helped them learn. This is also a good opportunity to reinforce vocabulary and make connections.
Consider using an ST Math puzzle (try the Challenge puzzles!) when you have a few minutes. It's a great way to get students thinking, engaging in math discourse, and having some fun. When you play games from the All Learning Objectives section of your account, you might want to turn on Auto Pause. It will stop the animation as soon as you click the Go button or enter the answer so you can slowly reveal the visual proof. Both you and your students can also use the annotation tool to make sense of the answer.
Pre-teach, Review, or Extend Content
As you examine your data, identify big ideas, concepts, or specific standards that students need additional support on. Then identify puzzles that will address these areas and project the puzzles and engage students in mathematical conversations. You may choose a Puzzle Talk based on data, or select another game that addresses the content you want for their lesson.
Because of the powerful, visual model, and informative feedback within the ST Math program, it is not necessary for students to have already been “taught” the content. This makes ST Math puzzles a great resource for pre-teaching difficult concepts or standards. You can identify content to address by looking at historical data, beginning of the year assessment data, or anecdotal data for that grade level.
Additionally, ST Math puzzles can be used to review content. The visual models provide opportunities for addressing multiple concepts. They offer you the chance to address intervention content and grade level content in one lesson and bridge those connections through the visual model.
- Typical classrooms are made up of students from all levels including some who have unfinished learning and are in need of intervention. Instead of delaying their exposure to grade level curriculum, you can use visual models in ST Math, the annotation tool, and facilitation to address students' areas of need and strengthen their conceptual understanding and schema.
ST Math puzzles can also be used to extend content. As students engage in the games in a whole group or small group setting, you can pose questions related to the puzzle that stretch students' thinking or support them in making connections. Think about how similar ideas are extended in higher grades and ask questions that support those ideas.
Writing in Mathematics
Writing is a great way to deepen students' understanding, help them make connections, clarify their thinking, and communicate their reasoning to others. As students work through ST Math, they can engage in writing activities to express what they are learning.
Strategies for integrating writing and ST Math include:
- Create Word Problems: Have students select a game and create word problems that go along with each level in that puzzle.
- Math Questions: Have the students identify the mathematics in each level of a game then create Learning Cycle questions. As students think about the math in each level, encourage them to think of where students might get stuck.
- Math Experiences: Have students write about their experiences with JiJi. Students can write about their favorite games or most challenging games. Students should explain how they solved the problem.
- Create a Quiz: Ask students to create a quiz. Students may want to create appropriate distractors – misleading answer choices. They should also provide an answer key with explanation as to why the answer is correct.
- Classroom Connections: Ask students to pick a textbook lesson and decide which game best fits the concept. Students should explain on paper the similarities and differences between the textbook material and the games.
- Math Stories: Have students create “math stories” starring their favorite characters from the puzzles (e.g., JiJi, Pie monster, fruit monster, aliens, Paco the tomato, etc.). The math stories should contain a math problem related to something they learned in ST Math and a solution.
- Exit Tickets: Use Exit Tickets as a quick way to check-in with students and get an assessment of what they are learning.
Introduction to Puzzle Talks
The use of ST Math puzzles to lead a whole group or small group short conversation are what we call Puzzle Talks. Similar to number talks or math talks, the goal is to get students to communicate and deepen their understanding of mathematics. Puzzle Talks leverage the power of the visual models and manipulatives inherent in ST Math and use language to support the learning experience. Puzzle Talks are available as PDFs in ST Math Help.
Puzzle Talks are classroom routines that provide opportunities for whole group mathematical discussion, exploration, and connections. It is beneficial to do a 10-15 minute Puzzle Talk and then extend that talk over the course of the next few days to continue to explore different concepts, strategies, and ideas afforded through the visual representation.
During the extension activities, students can engage in modeling the mathematics they are learning through the use of game mats, number lines, and manipulatives. Students can also translate the learning from the puzzle to symbolic notation or to a rich problem.
A Puzzle Talk is also a great way to launch a lesson and to help students develop/use academic vocabulary.
Puzzle Talks give teachers the opportunity, through a visual model, to deepen students’ mathematical understanding and promote thinking around topics and strategies.
Puzzle Talk Tips
- Visit St Math Help and select a Puzzle Talk.
- Navigate to the game in your Educator Experience by going to Curriculum > All Learning Objectives.
- Project the game of your choice and share your screen with your class or a small group.
- Have students talk about everything that they notice before beginning to solve it. This helps them make sense of the problem so they can persevere in problem solving.
- Provide quiet time for thinking before asking more questions. This will allow all students, not just the fast ones, to contribute.
- Use the guided questions to facilitate conversation as you work to solve the puzzle as a group.
- Don’t be afraid to put in many incorrect answers. There are an unlimited number of tries on puzzles played from your account, and the animation of JiJi will give students informative feedback that shows the results of their solution and why it was incorrect.
- Celebrate success when you accomplish the puzzles!