If you haven't heard of Estimation 180, you need to. It's creator, Andrew Stadel (@mr_stadel) is a genius with ways, means, and methods to building students' estimation skills. CueThink has included some of Stadel's word count estimation problems within its bank. I really wanted to try the "What's the word count of the 8 mathematical practices?" problem because it looked quite challenging, but achievable, for my students.

I knew I wanted to take a step before this one to help scaffold students since I wanted to have it be a successful and exciting adventure. So I started with the MLK Jr word count problem I found on his website:

During a 25 minute session, I first started with the question, "What do you notice about the letters?" Students discussed with a partner first and then mentioned the shape of the letters, white spaces between words, how some letters were thinner/thicker, etc. The longer we went, the more they noticed, like how some letters within the word had additional spaces between them (Justified text). By the sheer number of "Oh, I didn't see that" emitted, I realized by taking time to do this step and drawing attention to these details, it helped gain awareness to factors ultimately contributing to a reasonable estimate.

When I pushed their thinking and asked how to solve this.....I got mixed responses indicating most really had no clue. So we started small with just the letter "M."

"How can we divide up letter "M" into a smaller parts to make a closer estimate?" Students worked with their partners to determine strategies to do so. We talked about breaking it apart into rectangles, counting one line, and then multiplying it to show an entire space (Think area of a shape). I was thinking they were on the right track...they were getting it.

So then, I showed them the Mathematical Practices problem and together we filled out the Understand phase of the problem. Having prepped and practiced with the MLK JR problem, it seemed to help the students scaffold the learning to the more difficult one for most students. We also focused on the "Estimate" area (On the bottom of the Understand Phase) and, in triads,worked to try to find a high and low estimate using his/her own strategy.

When I pushed their thinking and asked how to solve this.....I got mixed responses indicating most really had no clue. So we started small with just the letter "M."

"How can we divide up letter "M" into a smaller parts to make a closer estimate?" Students worked with their partners to determine strategies to do so. We talked about breaking it apart into rectangles, counting one line, and then multiplying it to show an entire space (Think area of a shape). I was thinking they were on the right track...they were getting it.

So then, I showed them the Mathematical Practices problem and together we filled out the Understand phase of the problem. Having prepped and practiced with the MLK JR problem, it seemed to help the students scaffold the learning to the more difficult one for most students. We also focused on the "Estimate" area (On the bottom of the Understand Phase) and, in triads,worked to try to find a high and low estimate using his/her own strategy.

I wanted to take time to really stress the importance of reasonable estimates and how to arrive an them before they dove into the problem. The Understand phase hold many keys for building a solid solution and estimation is one of them.

It wasn't all "Pie in the Sky" though....my more struggling students*really* needed an explicit strategy to help them. We walked through the estimates for high and low together.

I'd love to hear other ways teachers are building estimation skills within their problem solving practices. Feel free to share below:

]]>It wasn't all "Pie in the Sky" though....my more struggling students

I'd love to hear other ways teachers are building estimation skills within their problem solving practices. Feel free to share below:

I have been tinkering with this math app and am in L-O-V-E! Math has not been my all-time favorite subject...but there's something about this app that

Here are 10 reasons to download & use it:

1) Students enter your class through a code. This makes signing up a breeze and easier on the teacher end. I teach three different math classes, so I have students grouped as such.

2) Plenty of word problems to start off and many from The Math Forum. Can be filtered by grade (4th-8th but there's some 2nd, 3rd), mathematical strand/topic, level (elementary, middle, high), and author. You can also add your own math problems to the mix. This was helpful with a district-wide prompt.

3) The bundle of work done in the app is referred to as a Thinklet. It captures exactly what it is...love the name.

4) Breaks word problems into 4 clear phases (Based on Polya's Problem Solving Techniques), helping students better comprehend and attack the problem: Understand, Plan, Solve and Review. These four steps are on four sequential screens.

5) In the UNDERSTAND phase, students can use the highlight tool to identify the important elements to the problem and/or strike-through the unimportant information.

Here are 10 reasons to download & use it:

1) Students enter your class through a code. This makes signing up a breeze and easier on the teacher end. I teach three different math classes, so I have students grouped as such.

2) Plenty of word problems to start off and many from The Math Forum. Can be filtered by grade (4th-8th but there's some 2nd, 3rd), mathematical strand/topic, level (elementary, middle, high), and author. You can also add your own math problems to the mix. This was helpful with a district-wide prompt.

3) The bundle of work done in the app is referred to as a Thinklet. It captures exactly what it is...love the name.

4) Breaks word problems into 4 clear phases (Based on Polya's Problem Solving Techniques), helping students better comprehend and attack the problem: Understand, Plan, Solve and Review. These four steps are on four sequential screens.

5) In the UNDERSTAND phase, students can use the highlight tool to identify the important elements to the problem and/or strike-through the unimportant information.

6) Also in the UNDERSTAND phase is an area to place an estimate. It makes the students think about reasonable options prior to launching into a solution.

7) In the PLAN phase, there is a handy list to acknowledge and check-off different strategies to solving the problem. This helps to clarify student thinking and exposure to different ways to solve a problem. It also gives students space to write out their plan to clarify their thinking.

8) The next phase, SOLVE, allows students to screencast their solution. There are annotation tools, ability to import pictures and voice recording. Students love to talk and show their thinking.

9) The last phase is REVIEW. Students are prompted to do just that: review their process, screencast, and answer through prompts. From there, students submit the Thinklet to either their class or teacher.

10) Here it comes....CueThink's hashtag to life #MakeMathSocial. Once students submit their problem to the class, they now have the opportunity to watch their fellow students's Thinklets' and make annotations. The opportunity to see how their peers solve the problem, instead of the just the teacher....sign me up!!

]]>7) In the PLAN phase, there is a handy list to acknowledge and check-off different strategies to solving the problem. This helps to clarify student thinking and exposure to different ways to solve a problem. It also gives students space to write out their plan to clarify their thinking.

8) The next phase, SOLVE, allows students to screencast their solution. There are annotation tools, ability to import pictures and voice recording. Students love to talk and show their thinking.

9) The last phase is REVIEW. Students are prompted to do just that: review their process, screencast, and answer through prompts. From there, students submit the Thinklet to either their class or teacher.

10) Here it comes....CueThink's hashtag to life #MakeMathSocial. Once students submit their problem to the class, they now have the opportunity to watch their fellow students's Thinklets' and make annotations. The opportunity to see how their peers solve the problem, instead of the just the teacher....sign me up!!