After witnessing a 5th grader feel empowered to teach his classmates how to round decimals using Lola, I got an idea. Why not let the kids have a go at designing a Work System? So, when they arrived that morning for math intervention, I told them we were going to try something different. And anyone who’s ever worked with a kid will tell you: they’re all about changing things up!

Using the Work System I’d created for the decimal rounding the day before, I walked them through the step-by-step instructions. I explained what it meant to ‘break down’ a larger problem into smaller, manageable chunks so it's easier to understand. I likened it to a puzzle: “You can’t put ALL the pieces together at once, but if you work on the smaller pieces, one at a time, they eventually come together to make the big picture.” This seemed to resonate, so we began. With a little guidance from me, the kids wrote a Work System for a multi-step word problem involving decimals. They even added a step at the end that said: “You’re done!” (They thought this was important and guaranteed a 3-star take-away).

We ran their Work System to see how it panned out. It ran beautifully! The kids were pretty proud of themselves. There was just one hitch: they realized they hadn’t allowed enough time for the completion of each task. “I guess we could put a little more time on the case a kid gets distracted. That happens sometimes,” they said.

Can't argue with that.