Math Maven

Teacher Center
Math Maven's Mysteries
Grade Levels: 3 – 5

*National Standards Correlations
*How to Use this Game
*Meet the Maven

Activity Snapshot
The Math Maven is always finding herself in the middle of a fun new mystery — and she counts on her "super sleuths" to crack the case. Each mystery focuses on a particular area of math reasoning and computation and requires students to use creative thinking and sharp math skills to help her find the solution.

Learning Objectives
By participating in Math Maven's Mysteries, students will:

  • use problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  • apply math skills in an authentic situation
  • practice reading skills

Time Required
The time required for this activity is approximately one class period. Students need time to read the mystery (which is about one page) and solve the math problem. Time may vary depending on the reading level of the students.

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National Standards Correlations
Math Maven's Mysteries helps students hone their problem-solving, math, and Internet skills, and meet the following National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards for math instruction:

  • Students use problem solving approaches to investigate and understand mathematical content (1a).
  • Students formulate problems from situations within and outside mathematics (1b).
  • Students develop and apply a variety of strategies to solve problems, with emphasis on multistep and non-routine problems (1c).
  • Students generalize solutions and strategies to new problem situations (1e).
  • Students reflect on and clarify their own thinking about mathematical ideas and situations (2b).
  • Students discuss mathematical ideas and make conjectures and convincing arguments (2e).
  • Students make and evaluate mathematical conjectures and arguments (3c).
  • Students understand and appreciate the need for numbers beyond the whole numbers (6a).
  • Students extend their understanding of whole-number operations to fractions, decimals, integers, and rational numbers (6c).

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How to Use this Game
Math Maven's Mysteries can be a teacher-guided or independent student activity, depending on the reading level of the students. With younger students, teachers will want to read the mystery aloud to the students, then discuss as a class the problem posed in the mystery and possible strategies for reaching a solution. Older students can read the mystery and solve the math problem individually or in small groups.

Once a solution has been reached, students should discuss their strategy to reinforce the problem-solving skills they used. Then they should be prepared to describe in writing the strategy they used. Younger students might create a response as a group with teacher guidance, while older students should be able to write their own strategies independently.

Finally, students should return to the mystery online and click the answer that matches theirs. If their answer is incorrect, they'll be encouraged to return to the mystery and try again. If their answer is correct, they'll receive a "Way to Go!" from the Math Maven.

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Here are suggestions to enhance the experience of Math Maven's Mysteries for your students:

  • Write a spin-off of the Math Maven's mystery for the students. For example, change the numbers, or add a new villain who presents a different challenge using the same data. This may be useful as preparatory activity if the math skill is somewhat advanced for your students -- or to make the math more challenging if your students were able to solve the mystery easily. You may wish to ask students to write these spin-offs themselves.

  • Have students create their own math mysteries, including two or three reasonable distracter answers for the multiple-choice format. Correct answers and computations should be included with each student-created mystery. Sets of cards could be made with a mystery on each card and answers on the back for independent student use in an activity center.

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Math Maven's Mysteries provides immediate response to students by telling them "Way to Go!" if they submit a correct response and asking them to try again if they submit an incorrect response. In addition, you may want to try these informal assessment techniques to evaluate your students:

  • To assess math reasoning and creative thinking, review students' strategies used to solve the problem. Ask them to think of other strategies that would also work. Encourage them to submit their strategies to the Math Maven.
  • To assess math computation, challenge students to solve the same or similar problems using different data.
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The following Scholastic Supplemental materials could be used in conjunction with Math Maven's Mysteries:

  • The Best of DynaMath Word Problems. A fun and humorous way for students to practice solving word problems. (Processing #TRB26625)
  • 30 Wild and Wonderful Math Stories to Develop Problem Solving Skills, by Dan Greenberg. A book full of interesting tales with follow-up math problems. (Processing #WFM49169-5)
  • Teaching Thinking and Problem Solving in Math Grades 2-6, by Char Forsten. A guide for teachers with lots of tips and cross-curricular activities. (Processing #WFM49171-7)
  • Math Mysteries, by Jack Silbert. Stories to help students become problem solvers. (Processing #WFM60337-X)

To order any of these books, call 1-800-724-6527.

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