# Set the Scene with a True or False Math Activity

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By: Mary Kienstra on: August 21, 2014 in: collaboration; discussion; engagement; true; false *
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This year, I hope to provide more experiences that bring the math content to life for my students. I’m working on providing an environment for even more collaboration and discussion since I realize more and more that these are the key components of student engagement.

Elementary school students need to work together and talk about their learning. Math class is the place to do that. With math problems that challenge and a partner to help, student engagement and learning soars! They collaborate, discuss, and create their understanding.

The first unit in my 5th grade curriculum is a review of order of operations. This year, I’m going to start the unit with a True or False activity where students will work in pairs to determine whether an equation is true or false. In this setting, they will be forced to collaborate and discuss.

One example of an equation from this lesson |

As students work in pairs, I can circulate and listen to the discussions. This activity will help me know who remembers the order of operations and who needs more support. More importantly though, as I walk around the room visiting the groups, I learn how my students approach this style of teamwork. Is there a dominant partner or are they working as equals? Are they each listening as well as speaking? Who needs more help? These are all important things to learn about my students in the first few weeks of school.

I know I’ll be making observations about their math understanding as well as the ways my students approach their work. These lessons will help me to determine how much to directly teach collaboration and discussion. I know that these are difficult skills for many kids, yet so valuable. Can you think of a job or profession where you don’t collaborate or discuss?