Extending Learning in Math and ELA

Amazing how third graders can solve puzzles that adults cannot.

Third grade students can solve puzzles that baffle some adults. Can you solve a KenKen puzzle? The puzzles—similar to a math version of Sudoku—test individuals’ problem solving and math fluency skills regarding mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). The puzzles are used by highly-able math students at seven Cobb elementary schools involved in the Math Fluency Initiative. First, the third graders develop a conceptual understanding of their multiplication and division facts by using manipulatives (such as round plastic counters) and individual white boards to draw models like arrays and tape diagrams. Memorization of the fact families is also a learning target, but the application of these skills through the use the of engaging card games, puzzles, and authentic real-world problems is the ultimate goal.

Similar extensions of learning are taking place in kindergarten, first, and second grade classrooms at the 27 elementary schools implementing the Early Literacy Framework. As students master phonics skills during whole-class instruction, their learning is individualized through an adaptive online program called HeadSprout. Additionally, students are expected to apply their phonics skills as they make connections in their reading and writing lessons. Students are writing stories to accompany wordless picture books, creating “blackout poetry,” and using pattern blocks to build representations in response to a piece of text. The creative and critical thought employed by our youngest highly-able readers and writers is phenomenal.


Andrew Kutscher, Supervisor – K-12
Advanced Learning

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