Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Filling Glasses problem

During our math team meeting this week, I shared with the group the Filling Glasses problem.  We were not allowed to write anything, just talk with our partner on matching glasses to four unusually shaped glasses with the graphs that best describe the height of the water in the glass over time.  We spent about 10 minutes talking with a partner and then the pairs shared out with the whole group and we discussed whether we agreed or not, and justified our responses.

I really enjoyed this problem for a few reasons: (1) although it was annoying at first, not being about to write anything really made me think about how I communicated my thoughts to my partner, (2) its not a "typical" kind of problem, yet totally real-life based, (3) I felt like I got a lot from listening to my colleagues comments.  My co-teacher liked this problem so much that he and I decided to use it as a warm-up for our CTT class one day to see how that would go.

What am I learning about collaboration?
The math problems that we have been doing have been a great way to "even the playing field" during our team meetings because they make all of us responsible for sharing.  Although I have gotten better at it, there have been many lessons with my scholars, where the bell rings in the middle of the scholars working, and the lesson really has no final share-out.  Being mindful of these problems have really emphasized to me the importance of bringing a lesson (or a problem) back together at the end and the share out main ideas.  


  1. Hi Anna.

    I think that doing math together is one of the most powerful things teachers can do together. I’d like to suggest that a problem you don’t finish within a certain time limit doesn’t mean you can’t come together and share before the end of the period. Students can share where they are without giving anything away, which may also help for anyone who is stuck. But more importantly, we don’t expect students to finish a book in one sitting; nor do we expect them to finish a writing piece in one sitting. So why do we insist on finishing a math problem in one sitting? I have a folder for my students—Problems I’m Still Working On—where they put their work if we have to move onto something else or the bell rings. Consider this and perhaps students will begin to see their math problem solving processes the way they see their reading and writing. What do you think?

  2. I read the "how much is your time worth" post before this one... Oops. I'm wondering about the collaborative process that happened with this different way of working together, not being able to write, just talk. It sounds like you experienced some discomfort when you say it was annoying, how did you deal with that discomfort? This way of doing the problem, do you think you could have done something like this earlier in the year?

    How do you think doing the problem together then teaching it together impacted your collaborative relationship with this teacher?