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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

How to Solve Math Word Problems Step by Step

How do you teach solving math word problems?

Is there a step by step problem solving method that my students can use?

Do your students struggle to understand and solve math word problems? Solving math word problems doesn't have to be difficult. Teaching students how to solve math word problems is important. There are some key skills that you can teach today!

How to Solve Math Word Problems

There are several key skills for math word problems that you can teach your students in one class period of thirty minutes or less. Introducing these skills will help your students become better problem solvers. Try one or all of them today!

1. Drawing a Picture or Diagram. 

This is a great strategy to use with visual learners. Students who are visual learners process information that they can see better than information that they hear. Drawing a picture helps them see the problem.

Here's an example of using the strategy of a picture. What’s the problem tell us? There are four apple juice boxes in the cooler and those apple juice boxes are 1/3 of the juice boxes in the cooler. (Also Step 1) Draw the Problem. Draw 4 apple juice boxes. Say these are 1/3 of the juice boxes. Draw one circle around the 4 apple juice boxes, and then draw 2 empty circles. Question what would go in the other circles and how to get to the correct answer. This is great for math chats about the possibilities.

2. Find a Pattern. 

Students should list the information already given in the problem. This list should reveal some very critical information about the problem. Examine the list of information for a pattern. What looks alike in the numbers? Does it repeat? Does it double? After finding the pattern, students should be able to identify the answer to the word problem.

3. Guess and Check. 

The strategy is exactly like the name. Students guess the answer and then check their guess to fit the conditions of the problem. It's a simple strategy, but very powerful to get students thinking.
Why use this method? A mathematician's guess is called a "conjecture". By using this strategy students are learning to become better mathematicians. They are learning to look for the unknown. When students look back to check their answer and prove that it is correct, is called a "proof." Students need to see that their proof is correct or incorrect in order to be successful in the future.

4. Make a List.

This strategy is one of the most powerful ones. Students decide what information goes on the list from the word problem given. Organize the list by categories and make sure all the pieces of the problem are on the list. Lastly have students review the information that they organized on a list. Does it make sense? Can you reach a conclusion to solve the problem?

5. Use Reasoning.

To use reasoning students first need to organize the information given into a chart. Examine the relationships between the numbers. Think about the data and form a logical conclusion. Students may have to eliminate information to find the answer. Reasoning is not always easy to teach. Here are some questions to help guide students through using reasoning.
  • Does the information make sense? 
  • What do these numbers have in common? 
  • Is there a pattern or relationship between the numbers? 
  • What can you conclude about the information? 
  • Does this word problem ask you to find something?

6. Working Backwards

Working backwards is not always an easy concept for students. You need to have reasoning and logic to move from the end back to the beginning of a problem. When working backwards it helps to review what the facts are. What do we know and what is missing? Here's an example of working backwards with a math problem.

7. Using a Graphic Organizer

The word problem graphic organizer helps walk students through the problem solving process. Each step is broken down for the student to analyze. Through this analysis, the students have a better chance of comprehending the word problem, choosing the correct operation, and determining if their answer makes sense.

These are just seven ways to problem solve to find a solution to a math problem. The most important thing you can do is to teach your students how to become problem solvers. The first step is reading a word problem. Then find a strategy that can help you solve the problem. As students become more fluent problem solvers, they will be able to use any of the problem solving strategies.

Try one or all the strategies and download the free problem solving challenge today!

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    Happy Problem Solving!

    Sunday, January 26, 2020

    How to Get Students to Do Homework

    Do you have students that don't do their homework? 

    Do you have students who forget to turn in their math homework?

    Do you have students that need a reminder to complete their math work?

    Grades were turned in for the second quarter last week. Do your students turn in all their assignments? Getting students to complete all of their assignments before grades are due is a challenge.

    How to get students to do homework

    To encourage students to turn in math assignments I send home a parent letter. This is a great motivation for 100% assignment completion. Involving parents in the process works well. They are eager to help and have their student complete the work.

    The parent letter is an excellent reminder for students. We all need a reminder about important events. Reminders help us remember what we need to accomplish. Reminders keep us on the path to success. As teachers, we don’t always have to be the reminder. A reminder can be a sticker, a bracelet, a text message, an email or a piece of paper.

    There are other incentives to turning in math homework on time. Students who turn it in on time receive an award certificate of all completed assignments, the feeling of achievement, the relief of being "done" with homework for the quarter, and they don't have to serve a lunch detention to complete the missing assignments. 

    Do you have students that haven't completed assignments and know they will not do them? The best solution to getting students to finish missing work that matters is to have them complete a missing work lunch detention. Before you assign the lunch detention make it clear that this is for academic purposes. Students must complete the missing assignment to be released from the lunch detention and they must attend the lunch detention until they have finished the missing assignment(s). Some schools call this "lunch buddy" program. Having students finish important assignments for academic value and a grade can improve their mindset that getting assignments completed will help them in the future. 

    Do you still have students that will not complete the assignments? Let's look at what you've assigned over the quarter. Read this blog post about grading assignments and review the quarterly assigned assignments. You have the power as a teacher to give and take away assignments to help a student achieve success. You can help them become a better student that turns in their assignments.

    I’m sharing this grading reminder with you. It’s helped students make a connection between work effort and grades. Students develop a growth mindset with this process. They learn that turning in all of their assignments improves their grades. Yes! This progression helps illustrate that they should always use their best effort first rather than wait until grades are due.

    I've included an award certificate for you too! You've made it through the first quarter and deserve recognition for your efforts. 👏👏👏 Click HERE to download it today!
    Happy Teaching!

    Friday, January 3, 2020

    Solving Math Word Problems - 2020 Challenge

    Do your students struggle to read math word problems? 

    Do they know how to quickly solve a math word problem? 

    Solving math word problems doesn't have to be a ten-step process. Learning the basics will help your students succeed in understanding math word problems. Once students understand the types of word problems they read, then they will become better problem solvers. It's simple. It starts with teaching. How are you training your students to think mathematically?

    Solving Math Word Problems - 2020 Challenge

    The 2020 Challenge for Solving Math Word Problems is intended to get your students reading and understanding how to answer math word problems. The challenge is for your students to solve math problems for at least 10 minutes on as many days as possible. They’ll win the challenge by solving word problem for 20 days in January. 

    Why do the Math Word Problem 2020 Challenge? 

    1. Students Gain a Better Understanding. 

    Doing the challenge helps your students start a new year connecting to math. Students will make new connections with math and become familiar with understanding math word problems. 

    2. Students Get a Set of Strategies. 

    They will learn new plans and strategies to implement problem solving. Students will become proficient at reading math word problems and using these key problem-solving skills to find a solution. Teaching these strategies will improve your students’ reading skills too. 

    3. Students Grow into Problem Solvers. 

    They may just find themselves getting better at reading math word problems, solving, and sharing with others how to implement problem solving strategies. Training your students to practice daily will help them become better problem solvers.

    It’s simple to get started. Download the Challenge today!

    Get the 2020 Math Challenge!

    Sign up to receive the 2020 challenge, problem solving strategies and math word problem worksheets.
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      Happy Teaching!