Dear Etiquette Expert

I read the book, “Well Played Building Mathematical Thinking Through Number and Algebraic Games and Puzzles” Grade 6-8 by Linda Dacey, Karen Gartland and Jayne Bamford Lynch this summer. One of the things they talked about is that students are familiar with online etiquette. Students know that if you text in all caps it is considered screaming. They also have ideas about how to treat each other but do they know how to work as a group when solving math.

So, they came up with etiquette cards (6 of them) to deal with working in a group. One example the authors gave of using these cards is to have groups pick a card at random and that it’s their job to discuss the concern and create a written response to the writer’s problem. They then need to identify one expert in their group that will share it with the class. After listening to the expert’s response the class will have a discussion and add their own remedies for the problem.

Here are the six cards I am going to use. I modified them to fit my classroom of 7th graders.

Dear Etiquette Expert,

Sometimes I really like solving problems alone, but my teacher likes group members to work together. I get too distracted when my partner(s) starts talking right away and can’t think about the math. I want to ask if we can start by reading and thinking to ourselves, but I don’t want to seem too different from everyone else. What do you think?

Dear Etiquette Expert,

My group and I had a lot of questions about the task today. We read the directions again, but it didn’t help and everyone else looked like they knew what they were doing. We finally just filled in numbers randomly and said we were done. I know we need to find a way to work through being stuck. Can you help us figure out how to keep going?

Dear Etiquette Expert,

My group won the game we were playing today, but my group made a big deal about our win and I felt really embarrassed. My group kept telling other groups that we were much better than they were and that we would win the next time that we played too. How can I avoid this big scene again?

Dear Etiquette Expert,

My group and I were working on a task, but after working on it for a little while the group gave up. They said it was too hard and we should do something else instead like talk about Friday’s football game. I thought we could solve it if we worked together. How do I convince my group to work longer and that the effort is worth it?

Dear Etiquette Expert,

One of the students in my group always want to be the one to say what we should do. He/She doesn’t give the rest of the group a chance. We feel like we understand the math but are just not as quick as he/she is. How can we help him/her to understand that we need to be involved in deciding what to do as well?


Dear Etiquette Expert,

I like to just sit back and do nothing when working in groups. I like to let everyone else do the work and then just copy what the group wrote down. I just sit back and do nothing or act out so that I don’t have to be a part of the group. Often I wait until the teacher notices that I am not working and comes over to say something. Can you help me figure out how I can become involved with the group and want to work?

If you have any suggestions or ideas for cards that might be added please let me know.



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About martinsarah

7th grade math teacher in Iowa

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  1. Dear Etiquette Expert — mathisajourney – AlgebraTEEN - August 5, 2016

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middle school math


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