Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers
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CCSS Practice Standard 5

The importance of strategic choice

Practice Standard 5 requires students to “use appropriate tools strategically.” In the K-5 classroom these might include calculators, paper and pencil, rulers and other measuring tools, manipulatives such as connecting cubes and base ten blocks, spreadsheets and other dynamic software, online applets, and mobile apps. When students make appropriate choices of tools when solving problems, they demonstrate their understanding of the mathematics involved. Some tools, such as number lines and arrays, help children create models that they can apply flexibly to many kinds of problems. These increase the opportunity for students to develop competence with them. More importantly, they lead children to make connections among various topics and develop an understanding of the structure of math.

What are the implications?

Learning to make strategic choices involves having access to a variety of tools, receiving instruction in their proper use, and having adequate opportunity practicing with them to develop proficiency. By becoming sufficiently familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of different tools, children learn to choose those that are most useful for the problem at hand and that add to their understanding of it. Teachers can promote this practice by assigning tasks that favor specific tools and asking students to reflect on how their choices affected what they learned.

How will these resources help?

The articles, blog entries, and videos in this collection provide examples of ways to promote effective use of mathematical tools within the classroom. The Math Toolkit blog entries contain suggestions for creating student toolkits that make mathematical tools more accessible throughout math lessons. The videos present situations in which teachers encourage students to choose appropriate tools to solve problems and to discover their relative strengths and weaknesses. The articles provide more examples of students making thoughtful choices and information about how this practice strengthens mathematical understanding.

Created:04-25-2014 by bethb
Last Post:04-25-2014 by bethb

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