Teaching Students to Use Appropriate Tools Strategically

Last school year I attempted to create a toolbox of strategies for addition and subtraction. These strategies were based on Sherry Parrish’s Number Talks book. I thought that this would very beneficial to my students because they were struggling with choosing which math tool or strategy to use with various word problems.  I used a pocket file folders and taped them to the walls in my classroom so when the students were working independently on word problems they could use the toolboxes as a reference and not rely on me to prompt them or to point them in the right direction.

Subtraction Strategies
Subtraction Strategies

The strategies that were in each toolbox were the tape diagram, decomposing, and the number lines. As the school year progressed I added other strategies to the toolboxes as I introduced them to the students.

Addition Strategies
Addition Strategies

School begins in 3 weeks and I think my attempt last school year to make it clear to my students that it is important to choose a math tool after they have determined what operation to use is very important was not as effective as I would have liked it to be. So, this year I would like to introduce it to my students as resource in the classroom that they can use when they cannot remember the strategies and tools for each operation by actually using the toolboxes as apart of my lessons. I hope that these toolboxes will help them to actually stop and think about the math tools and strategies that are available to them and strategically choose a tool based on what they have been taught.

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