# Yet Another Primary Math Question! (Involving WORD PROBLEMS!!!)

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Starista, Sep 9, 2010.

1. ### StaristaCohort

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Sep 9, 2010

Hi!

Okay, so... I teach third grade...!

I'm a firm believer in word problems. Kids absolutely HAVE TO learn how take the word problem apart and decide the best method to use to solve the problem.

Too many kids still read a word problem, locate the 2 numbers it involves, and simply add them together without reading through the problem and planning what they're going to do.

That being said... in grade 3... how IMPORTANT is it that the child read the word problem to himself?

I have a boy who is wicked bright in math.. but when we get to the word problem, he freezes since he's "no good at reading." (as he says)

IF I read the problem aloud to him he's good to go... often can do the work in his head and jots down the correct answer 99% of the time.

Should he be able to read the problems himself? While I know that it's their math computation that I am assessing, I also feel that it's important that they read and comprehend what the word problem is asking them.

This same kid also hates writing.. and when I say "Explain how you got your answer" to a word problem... he writes "I just knowed it" or "Why?" :lol::lol:

Any thoughts?

3. ### AliceaccMultitudinous

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Sep 9, 2010

I'm secondary math, but I'll chime in:

Yes, he needs to be able to read the problem.

Very few subjects, particularly in elementary school, are taught in isolation-- or should be. And try to get him out of the habit of doing it in his head. When he hits my class he's in for a huge argument from me about the need to show work.

In case you haven't already tried it, arm him with a highlighter. Have him go through the problem looking for terms which tell him what to do: "more than" so he'll know to add, or "decreased by" so he'll know to subtract. Then have him read the problem and set it up.

4. ### StaristaCohort

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Sep 9, 2010

Awesome highlighter idea, Alice, thank you. Sadly, he likely can not read/decode most of the math-related words. I am going to give each of the kids a highlighter though. They will be thrilled.

I am unsure what to do about how much he struggles with reading. He repeated first grade at our private school which has limited services for struggling kids.

I know he attends tutoring, but sometimes that's just a band-aid.

He needs his hand held at EVERY seat work activity that involved reading -- and we do not do too much seat work! As it's the start of the year, I read the directions AT LEAST once time... and he still raises his hand and asks "what do I do?" or "I don't get.."

I really hope I can be instrumental in helping boost his confidence and ability in reading.

5. ### AliceaccMultitudinous

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Sep 9, 2010

Can you work as a class, and make up a list of some of the more common phrases?

On your board, set up 4 columns: +, -, x, /
Then have the kids generate a list of the words that would imply each operation. Have them look through their textbooks, whatever, to get a fairly comprehensive list.

Now he's not looking at a new problem, merely looking for one of those familiar phrases.

In fact, I bet you could make a game of it-- come up with a convoluted story, not a math problem, and bury as many of those phrases in it as possible. Give the kids 4 highligters-- a different color for each operation, and have them go hunting to see who can find the most.

6. ### StaristaCohort

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Sep 9, 2010

That's a great idea!

We have a Math Word and Phrase Wall which the children love adding new words to every week.

The game idea is totally become one of my new math centers next week.

Thanks again for the splendid ideas.

Wish you taught at my school in South Florida... come for the weather, stay for the beaches & fun??!

7. ### AliceaccMultitudinous

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Sep 9, 2010

I would have to get a divorce-- Peter and Brian hate the heat.

Besides, I would also have to schlep my mom and my 4 siblings; home is where the family is...

8. ### AliceaccMultitudinous

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Sep 9, 2010

Day 1: the math words in columns on the board.

Day 2 (or homework) a regular word search puzzle, chock full of the phrases, to be done with 4 highlighters to represent the 4 basic operations

Day 3: that story, full of words like "sum" and "product" and "increased by..." You could even standardize the colors used for each operation, to make it easier for the kids to remember-- "increased by " is the same color as "plus."

Day 4: start really hitting the word problems

PS-- I don't know whether it comes up this early, but have them be particularly careful with "subtracted from." The "from" number is always written FIRST, even though it comes second in the problem.

9. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Sep 9, 2010

Alice to the rescue! I know grownups who struggle in fairly similar ways.

10. ### heavens54Connoisseur

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Sep 9, 2010

From what source do you get your word problems?

11. ### StaristaCohort

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Sep 10, 2010

Hello

Usually at the end of every lesson there are about 3-4 word problems. Also, I bought one of those nifty Evan Moore Daily Math Word Problems Review books. Each day the kids have a word problem to solve. I love it.

If you're interested, I have learned that you can now purchase those books as e-books! So you can download them and display them if you have a projector or interactive board.

12. ### YoungTeacherGuyPhenom

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Sep 10, 2010

"I just knowed it..."

HILARIOUS! :lol:

Sounds like something one of my kiddos would say! :thumb:

13. ### moparMultitudinous

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Sep 11, 2010

It is great if you can help the student to read the word problem on his own. However, as many students are able to have state and district tests read aloud-it is okay to help him to read the problems.

I would suggest having the student try to read the problem and circling words that he does not know. Then check with him and assist him with those words. This way you are slowly leading to more independence. If you refuse to read them, he could become turned off to math all together-and we have too many students with math phobias.

Also, as you already have a math word wall, make it part of the day to read the words on the word wall. This way, your students learn more math vocabulary. Play the same word wall games that you play with your reading word wall.

14. ### tgimHabitué

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Sep 11, 2010

Great ideas, Alice - as usual!

My 3rd graders do a daily problem (Evan Moor, I believe), and we read and discuss it together at this point. Since I am working with the struggling/slower-paced math class, I want to get them used to the PROCESS of breaking down the problem sentence by sentence, along with "What do we know? What do we need to know?" from me. As we do this, we are creating a list of operations/techniques for solving problems based on key words or phrases, too (+/-/draw a picture, make a table, find a pattern, etc.). This is posted on the wall, so they have a reference point for when I wean them to doing these on a more independent basis.

I make them write a sentence to explain their thinking for each problem. I am starting to wean them here, and then we share ideas for how we can best explain it. This is a huge component on our state testing, and I tell them it's a big thing to be able to not only "figure it out," but also WRITE to explain how you know.

15. ### itsmejenniRookie

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Sep 12, 2010

I started addreessing my word problems with a lesson in TMI. I got the kids all excited my telling then when they read the problem to check and see if there is too much informtation, then cross that out, I helped them identify that. Then I started talking the problems step by step to teach them the art of deciphering the problem, then as they got betting I started makign the problems more difficult. Try stepping back to easy problems, to address the learning how to do work problems and then bring them back to the grade level problems they shoudl be doing.

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