Monday is typically our one whole-group teaching day of the week. Tuesday through Thursday are small group stations and Friday is our problem solving day. (I plan to blog about how wonderful this plan has developed for our third grade team and the nuts and bolts of how it works).

Since we were all new to this method, I had some fun and told the students we were having a guest teacher to teach us all about Bar Modeling. I grabbed a whiteboard, marker, eraser sock, and sat down alongside them.

I then started a YouTube video by a teacher named Mr. Almeida (a teacher from KIPP Infinity Chart School). We listened to his instruction and paused the video periodically to replicate and discuss his strategy on our own whiteboards. Mr. Almeida teaches a wonderful step by step approach to working through a word problem and representing and solving it with a bar model.

- Stop at every punctuation mark, think about the information, then represent it on the bar model. Put a "check" above that phrase once it is tackled
- Each person or item in the word problem gets its own labeled bar
- Bars always align on the left side
- Try removing the number value from a phrase to understand it more clearly. For example: "James has 21 fewer bones than Louie." Read to yourself "James has fewer bones than Louie."

I am wishing that I learned how to Bar Model long ago. The visual representation helps me to understand a word problem with clarity where as before, I may reread the problem many, many times in an effort to gain good understanding.

Kids are recognizing which bar models indicate the need to add, and which the need to subtract. It has also helped many kids to understand the clue words "difference" and "how many more" with a clear visual representation.

I'm excited to see if bar modeling becomes a strategy that students choose to use independently as they solve word problems! Check out Mr. Almeida's video: