Word Problems and Math


Last year, after attending the Singapore Math workshop, I was motivated to have the students complete a POD (problem of the day) on a daily basis. After a while of having a problem for them to complete every day, somehow I stopped doing it with them. I don’t know whether it was my fault because I was trying to accomplish more “book work” or seeing the dread on the students’ faces that made me stop the practice. (The word problems in the book can be very difficult, so if I had to guess, it was me taking the easy way out.)
I began this year, motivated once again to do word problems, but one again stopped. I spend much more time practicing and reviewing learned skills doing math minutes with the students. I think this was a valuable task because for the first time in my career, when the students had to recall how to do a skill there was very little reteaching required; however, I knew the students needed to practice with word problems because isn’t that how we use math in the “real world”?
I recently started, once again, with word problems and I am encouraging the students to use the Singapore method which involves: creating a title for the problem, model drawing, solving, and a sentence explaining the answer.
At first, the students balked with the idea of all of the steps, so I decided to make it more “fun” to solve the problem using the steps. Through the years, students haven’t changed. They still love to write on the board and play teacher, so now I let four students come up to the board and fill in the steps and explain the word problem. For some reason this has been a hit!
I know it is my responsibility to help the students use their math skills in a real world way and I am trying. Now all I need to do is find better word problems that are more meaningful, and less boring, for the students. Why do all word problems have to be so meaningless? Does any one have any good websites or books for great word problems?


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May 2013
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