Grade 5

Is it possible?

Is it possible?

Participants were asked at the 2017 Fall Mathodology Institute if it was possible to use the digits 0-6 only once to make a true statement?

Is it possible?  Participants worked and worked and did not find a way to solve the problem with the given conditions.  The teacher allowed the task to move on without closure for a purpose.  When students work to become confident problem solvers we want them stating, “this is not possible, I have exhausted every situation.” Listen to their reasoning, and look for a systematic way to prove it is not possible. All too often we focus on finding the solution, and we can deepen the process and allow for practice when we alter the task.

Try giving a task where it is not possible and see how your students handle it.  Follow-up by asking, “if it is not possible, can we change one of the symbols to make it a true statement?”

When we do not provide immediate closure, we allow students to continue to explore.  Many participants emailed after the institute because they would not quit until they figured it out.  Below are a few of the pictures they sent.

Great perseverance by participants who refused to give up?

This is what we want from students…next question for Shelly…can I change any symbol to make it a true statement?  If so is there only one way?


Ok…..I’ve worked literally for hours and I’ve come to the conclusion that this problem is NOT possible. If the lesson was to teach us to let kids struggle so they work harder like a 🦋 I get it. I’ve done at least 100 fraction problems over the weekend. If you would’ve given us the answer I would’ve never thought about this problem again……but you’ve let us struggle and now it’s just painful. Please tell me it’s not possible 😂 my sanity is at stake.

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Rounding Using the Number Line

Use of number line to show rounding.  In each case what place is the student rounding to?  How do you know?

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Do you agree with my thinking?

When asked to solve a fraction divided by a whole number, the student gave context

(a story), a picture and the solution.  Do you agree with the answer?

If not what does the student need to work on?

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