Bright Ideas! Pocket Chart Problem Solving!

"Math Workshop" can be a daunting task...but please remember that math workshop doesn't need to mean ROTATIONS--it is simply a way for you to get students working on meaningful, "just right" math so you can be freed up to work with small groups or individuals as needed!

So today's "tip" for you is to help you keep students actively doing quality math.  As you know, one thing that I do a LOT of in my classroom is problem solving.  We do problems to warm up.  Problems if we finish early. Problems alone.  Problems in partners.  

I like students to be able to have some choice in their problem solving choices at times, so many years ago I started using small pocket charts to have problems hanging in my room at all times.  Sometimes these problems tie to my unit, sometimes they tie to another content area (ex. human body word problems), sometimes they are to review other concepts, sometimes they are seasonal, and sometimes I throw out a random assortment of problems to keep it interesting!

To help differentiate, I sometimes use a green, yellow, red coding system so students can self-select just the right problem type to try.  Green means "GO AHEAD!"...these problems should be accessible to everyone.  Yellow asks students to "SLOW DOWN" and read the problems first to see if they are a good fit.  Red means, "STOP!"  and try the other ones first before tackling them!  I don't always "level" my problems...but sometimes it's helpful when I want to make sure students are working at a just right level.
I use lots of different types of problems...these are actually some task cards I printed in black and white--most of which are review and challenge fraction problems.
Here is one of my mathematicians making his selection!
We glue these problems right into our math spirals and students are ready to roll!  It's a great way to differentiate and have problems ready at all times.

I love being able to prepare ahead of time and know that my students will always have a meaningful activity to work on if they finish early.  It's also great for math rotations or partner work--and you can make sure the problems are a "just right" level of challenge for everyone.

Want to check out some of the word problems in my store?  Just CLICK HERE to take you to my word problem "custom category" in my store.

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  1. I love the way you've organized this, and I love the idea of putting them in notebooks! Thanks for sharing!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

  2. Great idea! I need to get more problem solving into my classroom. We already use math notebooks, so this would be perfect. Thanks!



  3. Do you have your task cards available?

  4. Do you have your task cards available?

    1. Alicia...I have tons of task cards and word problems in my store...seasonal, by topic, etc. Stop by and check them out!

  5. I am going to do this next year Meg! Thanks for the awesome idea!

  6. What a great idea! I will be implementing this for sure. Thank you for sharing.