Hey, do your kids groan when they see word problems? Do they fake it and just guess their way through? Do they just give up?Imagine if they did them anyway, and did them correctly!Last night I was helping my grandson with his algebra I homework. I must say I love his teacher. He always assigns the end of the section problems. You know, the word problems with parts a, b, c , and even d! The amazing part is, my grandson doesn’t balk too much because I’ve shown him a few strategies that make word problems less daunting! Here’s the laundry list that always works for me:- Be prepared to read, reread, reread….
- Stop and repeat when you notice confusion or something that might be really important!
- Put the problem or parts of the problem in your own words!
- Compare the problem to another problem or to what you already know.
- Circle the question. (Write it down if you can’t mark in a book or write on your computer screen!)
- Look for key words or phrases! (Provide students with this list or have them make a list in their math notebook!)
- Underline important words and phrases. (See #5 if you use books or online practice problems.)
- Write notes about the problem to help you remember important stuff.
- Define or figure out what confusing words mean (especially if they are math words!)
- Pick a strategy and use it! (Provide students with this list or have them make a list in their math notebook. I have seen students also take pictures on their phones of the strategy charts in their classroom and then used the photo while working problems!)
- Check your answer. Does it make sense? Does it answer the question you circled?
Now here are two big ongoing follow up steps to teaching students to use these strategies:Make sure they are USING the strategies!!!! For example, let’s say they come to you for help with, “I don’t get this…..” Your immediate response is, “How many times did you read it?” If they pass that question with flying colors, “What is the problem about?” The idea is you just guide them through the steps and make it obvious to them that this is what you are doing! Secondly, make sure YOU are USING the strategies!!!!Practice what you preach. Model, Model, Model! Teaching kids to overcome their fear of word problems is key to empowering them mathematically. Just think how building their math confidence builds their overall confidence. Don’t you just love that you get to teach math and impact so many young people in this way? Kinda gives you goosies, huh?
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## Linda CordesTeacher, Coach, and Founder of RED Hot Teaching and RED Hot Math shares her best tips with you here! ## Archives
May 2017
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