Book a session

Cultivating Flexibility and Problem Solving with 'Change My Thinking'

communication identity math community mindset Mar 20, 2024

One important idea in both mathematics and life is our ability to learn new information and transform our thinking. This skill helps us develop flexibility in our problem-solving and see mistakes as opportunities to learn, change our thinking and grow with the new knowledge we are learning.

I always like to introduce children to the idea of Change My Thinking, or as we often call it, CMT (for short), and model it myself so that it becomes an important part of our classroom culture. In fact, some years, I have witnessed children using the acronym in their learning not only in math but also during writing, science, and other subjects throughout the day.

A few years ago, I had a very powerful moment, with the use of CMT. My grade 3 class was solving the following problem:

There are 23 children in Ms. Jacobs' class. We are going to order 2 pieces of pizza for everyone, and the pizzas come with 6 slices each. How many pizzas do we need to order?

As the children were working in partners and exploring this problem, one child wrote the following down on her paper: 46 ÷ 6. After thinking about it for a bit, she crossed it out neatly with one line (as we had discussed many times before) and wrote CMT at the top. This was such a pivotal moment because it told me so much about her strengths as a mathematician. She understood that the context of the problem was about division, she understood what division was, and she even played around with lining up her division problem (social math knowledge), as she had seen other addition, subtraction, and multiplication problems lined up. But then, she got stumped. She didn’t know how to perform the division algorithm or figure it out, so she ‘changed her thinking.’ She ended up drawing a model to show her thinking for the problem. 

In this moment, because she showed her changed thinking, I was able to help her connect her model to her initial thinking, letting her know that indeed she did actually solve 46 ÷ 6, just in a different way.

The pride she experienced was immeasurable and demonstrated the power of CMT in action. Having the flexibility and perceived permission to try something and change it, in the context of math learning, can empower our children’s math identity. It makes trying new ideas and theories less daunting and gives children permission to play with number relationships and ideas. It honors the idea of a growth mindset, allowing the children to see the learning and mistakes in their thinking and the growth.

Try it today! Introduce 'Change my thinking' into your classroom culture. Embrace it orally through discussions, model it yourself in your teaching, and highlight the power of drawing one simple line through our thinking, in case we want to come back to it.


Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Mathematizing 24.7
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.   

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.