Three Part Lessons ~ Teaching Math through Problem Solving

Being teachers means that we are always learning new and exciting ways to build our students knowledge.  New methods and research are always available and great new developments are pushed forward.  The Three-Part Lesson is one of the new methods that we as teachers are being taught to utilize in our Mathematics classrooms.  The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat of Ontario Canada, published a break down of what happens within each part of the lesson.  These types of supports are essential to help us develop our craft to be the best in our classrooms.  This link will bring you to a detailed breakdown of the structure of a three-part lesson:

But what does this actually mean for teachers?

Obviously to be able to implement this type of strategy means teachers need to determine where to start instruction.  Where are students on their learning continuum?  What skills are they lacking to be able to solve the problem presented? Teachers need to do this through pre assessments that aid in determining if the students have the necessary skills and knowledge.  This is vitally important, as teachers need to be able to determine what must be accomplished with students prior to attempting the problem.  When doing so, teachers ensure that all students have a strong foundation to be able to attempt the problem and can experience success.

While students are working on their solutions teachers should expect to direct and guide them.  This means that, as always, teachers need to be prepared.  How?  Solve the problem on your own!  This will illustrate the challenges students may face in solving the question.  But do note that this method of problem solving stipulates that there is not just one way of solving it.  Attempt to come up with a different solution than the first one and be open to other methods.

When it is time to display the results teachers should be able to support this step through meaningful discussions regarding the diverse ways that the problem has been attempted and solved.  Note that this method cannot be done in one class period!  Usually, it is done over at least 3 class periods.

Therefore, when choosing questions, they must encompass a variety of strands from your curriculum.  These questions must be open ended to allow for diverse use of strategies.  This will aid in ensuring your curriculum expectations are addressed.

Furthermore, you must have the appropriate supplies (chart paper, sticky notes, markers, & manipulative as minimum requirements) and a classroom management style that supports heterogeneous groupings, collaboration, support, focused discussion and certainly student accountability.

This last piece is exceptionally important, as this is where students have a voice, take ownership of their learning, and can convey their understanding to others.

If you are a teacher that uses this method, then please let us know about your experiences.  Collaborating together allows for deeper understanding for all of us!

Let us know what you think or add in your comments about teaching through problem solving.

4 thoughts on “Three Part Lessons ~ Teaching Math through Problem Solving

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