Being “College & Career Ready” is as much how we work and not just what we know. Think about your school, your team and those high-performing work environments we’re all so jealous of.

People need to learn to work with people, work in a team and work on their own. I’m the biggest believer in personality types and working within our strengths, but the reality of successful organizations is the HOW of our interactions with people.

With that in mind, this is how we have been running our math lessons this year…

Solve & Share:

  • Students are REQUIRED to move. It isn’t good for our brains to stay in one spot looking at the same things and working with the same people.
  • They have 5 minutes to try to solve the problem. If they can, they know they should:
    • Make sure others can
    • Find a way to model it
    • Find a way to check it
    • Label their work
    • Check answers with others and be able to communicate with them, mathematically
  • I close this up by reviewing the strategies I see students working on.
  • For the most part, in my heterogeneous class, we are able to come to consensus on a solution before the time is up

Read “Yep, that failed. I think I should do it again…” by Thomas Dennison

Guided Practice:

  • 2-3 problems we do TOGETHER
    • Not teacher-modeled
    • We solve the math problems communicating and working together, while I record the work on the board and guide the directions, vocabulary and instruction

Practice Buddy:

  • 15 minutes working with ONE partner using the Practice Buddy tool offered through our enVision Math program
    • Allows them to support each other, work a bit on their own but always have someone there
    • Buddies don’t get the same problem and I get individual grades for each student. What’s not to love? Check out my blog on Practice Buddy.


  • Solve problems from their book on their own
    • This is also where I can pull a group of students together based upon what I’ve seen during the first few parts of the lesson

Guided Practice:

  • We come back together and I review issues I’ve seen
  • Come back together to tackle a few more application-based problems

Quick Check:

  • On their own, and they’re available at the end of each lesson
  • 2-4 problem closure of the lesson that gets submitted to me, once again a great tool offered through our enVision Math program

This is a format that I believe mirrors an adult workplace environment – and actually benefits all learning types and personality types.

· Work with a variety of people

· Work with the teacher & class

· Work with one partner

· Work on your own

· Work with the teacher & class

· Work on your own


See all blog posts from 5th Grade Teacher & Fresh Ideas for Teaching Blogger Thomas Dennison.

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Thomas Dennison

Thomas Dennison

5th Grade Teacher

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

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