Sunday, November 1, 2015

Problem Solving Made Less Painful!

If your math assessments are anything like ours they have a lot of short answer, problem solving, explain your thinking type problems included.  We were looking for a way to get our students to work through problems and explain how they arrived at their answer.  Enter R.I.C.E. Check, courtesy of my brilliant friend Mrs. Nelson (who is NOT missing, she just moved to Kansas). 

Mrs. Nelson was my teaching partner for several years before moving and becoming an instructional coach at a very lucky school in Kansas.  She flies out to sunny AZ at least twice a year and we get to hang out, go for walks/hikes, and chat all things school.

On one of our walks we were chatting about how to get students to explain their mathematical thinking in writing and she shared her genius idea of Rice Check!  After having used it and tested it out for two years now, I asked her if I could share it with you on my blog and she graciously said yes! 


The day that I introduce R.I.C.E. Check to my students I give them a little snack of Rice Chex to get them interested!


I’m not sure what it is about including food that gets them so excited, but it works.  They seem to remember how R.I.C.E. Check works so much better since they get to eat while learning about it. 




To start them off, I make an anchor chart that hangs on our math wall and then give them a small copy to glue into their math notebooks.



The first SEVERAL times we use R.I.C.E. Checks we do it together as a class.  Modeling how to use it and sharing your thinking with your class is such an important step.  I also use it during small group instruction during math centers so I can work with them a little more closely on it!


This is my second year using R.I.C.E. Checks with my students.  In the last two years I have seen how successful this strategy is.  On our framework assessments, students who use R.I.C.E. Checks to solve the short answer problems and explain their thinking earn all of the points on the rubric.  In order to get enough practice, we glue in a week’s worth of problems into our math journal.  We warm up for our math time each day by problem solving.  Once they get the hang of it, they can usually get finished in about 15 minutes.  I collect their journals every Friday and check one of the problems.  I never tell them ahead of time which problem I will be checking, it keeps them on their toes! 


I think the most important part of our problem solving time is the time we spend sharing our thinking.  My students love to pair share and see all of the different strategies they used to solve the same problem.  Allowing them time to discuss their thinking, talk about strategies that they were successful with, as well as those they tried and abandoned is such an important step.  They learn so much from each other.

If you would like to try R.I.C.E. Check with your students go grab the pack for FREE from my TPT store {Click HERE}. It has everything you need to get started!


Happy Problem Solving!

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