In the classroom’s math activity time, Mia Buljan’s students work on various tasks related to putting together or taking apart numbers. A group of three students work with representing time on the hands of a clock using dice with representations of hours and minutes in digital format.

Other students work at a learning center in which they must identify the kind of problem (e.g., a put-together or a take-apart problem). While working with individuals on different activities, Mia challenges the larger group of students to work independently, in one case redirecting a student by asking, “Is this independent? Who could you ask instead of me? Who could help you? Who do you trust who you could talk to about a problem?” After work on these activities, Mia brings her students all back to the carpet, reminding them about what it looks like when they are “doing math” and “being independent.”

2nd grade math - addition & subtraction word problems with unknowns*Mia Buljan, Glassbrook Elementary School, Hayward Unified School District, Hayward, California*

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I challenge my students to assess their own work: “4 is my very best. 3 is doing good. 2 is I could do better. And 1 is I had a major problem.”

I want my students to privately share by representing with the numbers on their fingers their self-assessment of how they shared, how they did their math, and how independent/focused/patient they were. I have them look at the self-assessments of their group members, then sit knee-to-knee to figure out how they can work together more effectively.

This situation is where those “looks like/ sounds like” posters can be so helpful. If they are scoring themselves or somebody else as a 1 or 2, we can go support them moving up to a 3 or 4 by identifying at least one explicit thing from the poster to work on next time.

“Okay, so your friends felt like you weren’t letting them play the game, so let’s look at this, what’s one thing you can say/do to help more people play….okay, yes, you can try saying ‘it’s your turn now, can I play it again when you are done.’ So tomorrow, try that.”

It’s anything that can help them with that sense of agency/identity/authority.