Major Problem Solving Situation! Success!

That’s all I can say!  Today I had a discussion with my class about “precision” and what that means. (Kicking myself for forgetting to take pic of our anchor chart).  We talked about getting the right answer–but also getting efficient answers. We talked about getting a good plan and checking over our work.  We talked about neatness and labels and units.
Then I told them the truth.  That we were going to work on one math problem for an entire hour–maybe more.
“I hate math!”
“It’s too hard.”  (Really?  You haven’t SEEN it.)
So…I introduced the situation by asking them about their back to school shopping…if they did it at one store.  If they did it at multiple stores.  If they shopped sales.  If they loved it…despised it…
And then I asked what they would do if their family simply gave them a list and $300.  They got pretty excited about the possibility…some were going to spend every last cent, others were going to buy cheap stuff so they have money left, and others seemed to not know which approach to take.
I showed them the problem, showed them the two levels of challenge available, discussed expectations–and reminded them to PERSEVERE and work with PRECISION.
The task?  Mila has $300 to spend on her back to school clothing and backpack.  I told them what needed to be purchased (ex. 5 pair of pants, 2 sweatshirts, etc), made sure they understood that there are three stores to shop at (“Wow…Fashion House is REALLY expensive!” and “Let’s make sure to spend extra on a good backpack because it has to last all year!”)
and off they went!
Our math data sheets…two price lists (differentiated numbers) and a locker decor price list to use as a “part 2” if groups got that far.
Partner problem solving at its finest!
One team asked if I had any “money” for them to use to help.  I showed them where to access it whenever needed.
Working on writing up our final recommendations.
After we finished the first stage, we processed on what went well and what improvements we could have made.  Long story short?  Everyone participated.  Everyone was focused.  Most teams felt like everyone was included equally.  Most teams finished the task and were moving on to extensions.  Improvements needed?  “Level 2” voices!  As the teams got deeper and deeper into the problem, the intensity level and THUS THE NOISE went up!  We set that as a goal for our work tomorrow.  We easily could extend this another day because we didn’t even TOUCH the practice activities.  I’ll use those here and there over the next few days.  
Mission accomplished!  I can’t wait to continue working with my students on their problem solving, collaboration, and accountable math talk.  They couldn’t believe they worked on ONE problem for an entire hour!  I loved listening to their mathematical discussions and being the “guide on the side”.  
Want to see more of what we did?  Check it out.