After a long break, wake-up your student’s problem-solving skills with these middle school math activities. These are tasks that require problem-solving skills to complete. These are approachable for various skill levels. Increase rigor by requiring models, equations and justification.
Included are the following problems
• Seating Chart Logic Puzzle
Students determine the first and last names of students as well as their assigned seat number. Included is the logic puzzle with and without the grid. Great problem to have students practice constructing viable arguments.
• Number Riddles
In these number riddles students are given certain clues about a specific number. Remembering division rules will help students solve these riddles. If students don’t remember their division rules, have them work the problem out through logic. Great problem to have students practice justifying.
• Back to School Snack
Students are given clues about how many candies were in the candy dish. Students must work backwards to solve this puzzle. Excellent problem to have students practice modeling and reasoning.
• Home Lunch
Given different options for sandwiches, fruits, and dessert. Students determine how many different combinations are possible. Perfect problem to have students show a model.
• Also Included: Math Mindset Questionnaire
Are your students teachable? Evaluate your students’ math mindset.
Incorporating the Standards for Mathematical Practice
The first two weeks of school are an excellent time to teach or reinforce the standards for mathematical practice. Using problems that can be solved through logic (like the ones provided in these activities) are an excellent way to reinforce these practices. Step up the rigor of these logic problems by requiring the students to use certain mathematical practices.
• Have them make models for the problem. Have some students share their different models so that students are aware of various ways to model problems.
• Have students write about how they made sense of the problem and persevered in solving it.
• Let students present their different strategies for solving the problem, encourage them to construct viable arguments for the way they solved the problem. Lead a class discussion about the different strategies. Have students critique the reasoning of others. This is also a great way to teach what a class discussion should look like and sound like.
• Have students write about what tools they used to solve the problem and why. Which tools worked best? Were there any tools that they didn’t have that they wish they had to solve the problem?
• Lead a class discussion about how the students did or did not attend to precision. What happened when they did not attend to precision?
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