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Recently Mrs. Youngs's 6th graders were invited to unpack a math problem whose solution wasn’t immediately obvious, but not a single student was sitting at a desk.

Instead, they were standing in random groups of 3, talking about goats and chickens, using calculators, and working out the math on white boards. There was an order to the process: They didn’t choose their own groups so students could learn to work with everyone. There was only one marker per group so they had to cooperate when doing calculations on their white board. They had to figure out how to arrive at a solution instead of merely solving an equation.

And at the end of their math session, groups had to evaluate how they did through a self-check. It’s no surprise that their achievements reached beyond an equation.

Not only were Vikings tasked to answer a complex math question, but they learned to listen to others’ ideas about how to work it out, include everyone in the process, and support the progress of their group.

Moving math from memorization to process means students are becoming equipped for life-time use of math skills. At OV, students are also developing skills for listening, learning, and teamwork.

(This approach to “Thinking Math” is an enhanced learning practice published by educational researcher and author Peter Liljedahl, whose work is informed by neuroscience and research.)

Thank you, Mrs. Youngs.