solving world problems

equity & social justice in mathematics education


A lesson by Andy Detter & Savannah Householder

In this lesson children explore ideas about number and spatial reasoning by:

  • Children will be presented with the grid and a landmark of their choice (movable tokens). 
  • First, children are asked to place a landmark(s) somewhere on the plane. 
  • Children will then set their start point. This is done with support. 
  • Children then plan the movements of the mouse from point A to B. 
  • Children will (with support) code the mouse to execute the steps they planned. 
  • Children will engage in trial and error until the mouse completes the course successfully. (problem solving)

A child set up a race during a time with open use of the materials.

A child used obstacle materials to increase challenge and engagement.

Materials are being used to guide complex movement sequences. The ruler shows the exact measurement between units.

Recommendations for Implementation:

  • We recommend giving the child time to explore with the materials. We were able to witness a child create a complex and interesting task for herself. So, if possible, implement the lesson when children have ample time to problem solve and explore on their own. 
  • We recommend creating opportunities for children to complete the task several times over while introducing new elements such as barriers and obstacles. This allows them to build on their experiences with the material and engage in problem solving. 

Future Directions:

  • Implementing as a center activity for mathematics. 
  • Implementing as a small group activity where children create their own track for the mouse using the exact measurements (5 inches). Children will be able to use their track with the mouse and make revisions. When all the small groups have made their final revisions, they can show off their track with the mouse during whole group. 
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