At the end of the teaching time and guided practice, students will complete a problem set to independently practice what they’ve learned. The problem set is typically made up of about 4-5 types of problems, with several problems representing each type.
The types of problems most often move from more concrete/pictorial to abstract types of problems, while simultaneously progressing in difficulty. Here is an example of a problem set (from Grade 2 Module 4):
This problem set contains several problems divided into 4 sections. The 1st section (all under problem number 1) includes a few quick mental math problems. They are designed to be more simple computations, and each problem builds upon the previous one. The fourth problem in each set is the most challenging; however, the problems leading up to it are related and therefore help in solving the first. The directions indicate that students may use a place value chart to help them solve if needed.
The 2nd section (number 2) is similar to the first. However, it does not have as much build up to solving harder problems since there are only 2 problems per set. The problems progress from easy to hard, with a-b being easy, c-d being medium, and e-g being hard. Again, the directions indicate that students may use a place value chart to help them, but also encourages them to use mental math when possible.
The 3rd section (number 3) moves to being more abstract as it is a word problem. Here, students will apply the practice they did in the first 2 sections to solve the word problem.
The 4th section (number 4) in this particular problem set is optional for early finishers. Not all problem sets have this, but when they do these problems tend to be a bit more challenging. You can decide whether or not you want your early finishers to try these.
As with everything else with Eureka, the problem sets are customizable. The time limit set for the problem set is typically 10 -15 minutes, and for many students it will not be possible to complete every problem in that time. When I began teaching this curriculum, I thought the students had to complete it all and I was stressed out, so my students were stressed out. It was not good. Guess what? You don’t need to stress.
Instead, you should assign specific problems for students to complete first (they can always go back and do more if they finish early). When assigning “Must Do” and “May Do” problems, keep a few things in mind. “Must Do” problems should meet the objective and provide work at both the concrete/pictorial and abstract levels (balance is always best). Sometimes, even the first problem may seem too difficult and you will have to do a set of Pre-Problem Set problems to give students the confidence they need. If students need to use manipulatives or solve using pictures - allow it. They’re still solving the problems! Just make sure you discuss that the ultimate goal is to solve in the quickest and most efficient manner, but be sure to compliment the hard work and effort that went into solving the problem - no matter how they did it!
The expectation should be that the majority of the class will complete the “Must Do” problems within the given time.
If you choose to customize a Problem Set, try to include a mix of the types and difficulty of the problems you prioritize. For example, in the problem set shown above, you may wish to assign the following problems: 1.a., 1.b., 2.a., 2.b., 2.c., and 3.
If students finish those 6 problems before time is up, then students can go back and complete the rest. Or, in the case of this problem set, you may choose to have your students do #4 instead. Again, it is totally up to you which problems you give to your students!
As a personal preference, I like to put the answers on the board so students can check their own work as I walk around to check for understanding.
Some teachers like to collect the completed Problem Sets and review them - I just never have time for that.
I do reserve a few minutes just before the Student Debrief and Exit Ticket to answer questions about anything they may have missed, because I want to create a classroom culture where mistakes are okay. If there are more questions than we have time for, I’ll make a note and address that in the morning work or wherever I may have an extra moment or two. Or, if there are so many questions about missed Problem Set work, I know that I need to reteach and I might not give the Exit Ticket for that day and just spend the rest of my time doing the Student Debrief and discussing the lesson.
You have the authority to adjust the lesson’s components as needed to support the work students are expected to do in the Problem Set. So, if you need to change up the Fluency Practice, Exit Ticket, or Application Problem - you absolutely can!
Next time, we’ll discuss the Student Debrief - an extremely important part of every lesson that is often overlooked or pushed aside due to time constraints.
Classroom Teacher Doctor of Education
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