The words “problem solving” or “word problems” can be like bad words if you or your kid(s) struggle with them. They JUST learn how to do the math and now we want them to use it to do WHAT!? It can make everyone want to pull their hair out. But, it is what math is all about. And, honestly, it is what we want the kids to be able to do with the math we teach them, right!? So, how can we make it less stressful?
One of the things that can help is for students to “see” the math that you are asking them to do. Videos, like the ones by PrepToon, can put the Real-World reasoning behind the math into perspective for the kids. These short videos help explain the math as well as help work through the math with the kids.
This video by Heinemann is a great way to get a glimpse into a classroom as well as the thinking kids have. I love that the teacher doesn’t tell the kids they are wrong when they think they should subtract (rather than divide). They can still get the answer! And, that is what math is all about. She helps them solve the problem by drawing out what they are telling her to do. The conversations are AWESOME (and funny too!).
You can read even more tips on my Top Ten Problem Solving Tips over at my collaborative blog (Upper Grade Memoirs).
Want to bring some MONSTER-ific problem solving to YOUR classroom? You can grab my Monster Math Problems on Educents. These differentiated task cards include a recording sheet and can be used as a center, a whole class SCOOT game, a Problem of the Day, or even a quick “filler” activity. There are 40 task cards included (20 for each level).
How do YOU tackle word problems? I would love to hear from you!