“Mathematicians Make Sense of Problems and
Persevere in Solving Them…. They Never Give Up”
Yesterday we learned that journaling is a great way for
mathematicians to record their thoughts about the math that
they are working on. Today we are going to talk about why
Mathematicians NEVER give up, even when something seems
REALLY hard.
Prior to this lesson, the teacher needs to look through Unit 1
resources and find a real life story problem that will require
critical thinking, and may require one to try, try again. The
teacher will use this problem and model his/ her thinking as well
as how to solve the problem without giving up. As you are
looking at this problem brainstorm dialog that you will use with
your students to ensure that they see you struggle, try again,
and not give up until you reach a solution.
The teacher will start with a brief conversation about what it
means to “persevere”. Share some real life situations where one
may have to persevere. (Athletes, cancer patients, American Idol
contestants etc.) Brainstorm characteristics that these have in
common….. For example: they may have a hard time, they have
to practice A LOT, they don’t give up, they take it one step at a
time, they finish what they start…
The teacher will go on and explain that Mathematicians are the
same way…. Sometimes they come across problems that may
require them to do a lot of difficult math. They may not know the
answer right away. They may have to try several times before
the math makes sense to them. Instead of giving up, the
“persevere” until they reach a solution!
Using the problem that you chose, model your thinking with
students on how you will solve this problem. Be sure to let the
students see you “struggle”, and let them see you make some
mistakes at first. When you come to the end, remind students of
the things you did to “persevere” through the problem.
Find a similar problem for the students to try with you at the rug.
Give them some time to “struggle” through this problem. Allow
them to turn and talk to a partner and explain how they
“persevered” during this time.
Create an Anchor Chart with reminders of things
Mathematicians do to “Persevere” through a problem….
Some Examples may include but are not limited to:
1. They read the problem and try to make sense of what
the problem is saying.
2. They identify the PURPOSE of the problem.
3. They apply appropriate strategies for solving the
4. They write and talk about how they solved the problem
using precise language.
5. They use objects and pictures when needed to help them
solve the problems.
6. They can make connections between their models and
equations that they write.
7. They check their thinking by asking themselves “Does
this make sense?”
8. They ask their peers questions like “How did you get
that?” and “How is that true?”
9. They are willing to try other strategies or approaches.
10. They NEVER give up!!!
Today and every day, I want you to practice using these
characteristics when solving problems. Always remember that
Mathematicians NEVER GIVE UP!!!
Give the students a similar problem to try independently. After
they have been working for a while, let them jot down which
items from the chart they had to use to “persevere” through the
Watch for:
Students that seem anxious or reluctant to get started.
Students that are attempting to solve the problem, but are not on the right path. Rather
than “rescuing” them, what question(s) could you ask that might help them think
What questions could you ask the students that “get it” and already have the answer?
Share Time: Pick one or two students to share what they jotted on a sticky note. Let students do a selfcheck by saying “thumbs up if you persevered, thumbs down, if you will do better next time”. Note
which students had their thumbs down for future reference.
*Thank you to Allison Funk & Keri Smith, Instructional Coaches at Lyman Hall Elementary for their hard work on
developing these lessons.

4th-5th Mini-lesson Day 7