The Ohio State University at Mansfield


5-Step Process

Student mathematicians develop over time as they experiment, play, practice, communicate and internalize sense-making.

One foundation of the MLI work is the 5-Step Curricular Process. Through this, students are able to bridge their experiences and language to mathematical symbols. This process provides an opportunity for differentiated instruction and integration between Mathematics and Language Arts.

The Algebra Project’s 5-Step Curricular Process addresses each of the eight Ohio Learning Standards Mathematical Practices. The process requires scaffolding on the part of the teacher in order to be fully and effectively realized as consistent student practice.

This pedagogy lays the foundation for student empowerment and ownership of their mathematical ideas.

1. Shared Experience
A shared experience is any task, game, or problem solving activity that allows students to discover new mathematical concepts rather than having the teacher “tell or explain.”

2. Picture or Model of Experience
Students draw a pictorial representation about the shared experience.

3. People Talk
During the third step, students write about the experience, using their own language to describe it. Students often share their work from steps 2 and 3 to facilitate group discussion.

4. Feature Talk
The teacher works with students to bring out big mathematical ideas from the previous steps. It is the time where the teacher supports the students’ negotiation of understanding in a more formal mathematical language.

5. Symbolic Representation
Students show the mathematical concept learned through invented or traditional symbols to represent their thinking. They need to be able to convey the mathematical understanding to others.