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  • Terri Bond

    July 10, 2021 at 6:58 pm

    When I was teaching my first year in a new grade level in a new state, my partner and I had planned for the series of lessons with the standard that says: Solve one- and two-step problems using data in whole number, decimal, and fraction form in a frequency table, dot plot, and stem and leaf plot. Talk about a loaded standard!! It expects kids to not only read and interpret the three types of data representations, but also requires them to solve two-step problems with them! This would include adding, subtracting, and comparing fractions, decimals and whole numbers.

    I think we were really crunched for time or something, because we had planned to simply use the consecutive pages in the student math book, which goes something like:

    Day one – Read and interpret frequency tables, with all three number forms, and do the multi-step problems at the bottom of the page.

    Day two – Read and interpret dot plots, with all three number forms, and make SURE you do all the multi-step problems at the bottom of the page.

    Day three – Read and interpret stem-and-leaf plots, with all three number forms, and of course, do the multi-step problems.

    Day four – Read and interpret all three types of data representations mixed up on the page, and solve ALL problems on the both pages. Ta-da! We’re done with this and can move on next week!

    I knew going in that this was WAY too fast, but since we were crunched for time, I planned to proceed in this ridiculous way. To make it even more embarrassing, I used the pre-printed problems in the consumable math book, which had NO connection to the kids at all. Sometime in the middle of the first day, I thought, “What am I doing???!!”

    I wasn’t thinking the actual words, “Should I proceed, or should I pivot?” but I did realize that this was ridiculous. So, in hindsight, I now know that what I did was to pivot.

    The next day, we collected data on the simplest thing I could think of so everyone could access it. I think I had them count how many jumping jacks they could do in one minute. We collected the data, put it in a frequency table, dot plot, and stem-and-leaf plot. Then we used their actual data to write and solve problems. For example: How many more students did greater than 15 jumping jacks than did fewer than 15 jumping jacks? We repeated with different student-collected data the next three days, and they learned so much more. By the end, they could transfer data from one form to another, and write pretty sophisticated questions.

    It actually took only one day longer than the original four-day plan, but it was so much more “real!”