Oh, the age old problem...Word Problems! Kids hate em. They don't get em. When you mention the two words the squirming in the seats begins. The collective "Ugh!" ensues. All of a sudden the teachers words sound like the teacher in Charlie Brown "Wha Wha Wha". (If that didn't happen already.)
My goal this year in sixth grade is to break this vicious cycle of "Word Problem Phobia". I want to get to the bottom of this. I want to know exactly the reasons why each year there is a phobia, dislike, hatred for word problems.
I contend and tell the students that every single problem they will ever have to solve in their lives is a word problem. That math they need to solve is connected to something, whether a trip to the grocery store, a home improvement project, or planning for a birthday party. You never have to do a math problem just for fun, unless you want to. (See last week's blog on Ken Ken's.)
So how will I get to the bottom of this? How will this age old problem be fixed? I'm not quite sure, but I will give it the "Old Intermediate School Try"!
Here's the plan:
~ Give them lots of word problems.
~ Not understanding what is being asked is the big problem. Solving the wrong problem using the wrong numbers is the most common issue. So I will try to teach them specific reading strategies to help understand the problem. We do this in reading, we will apply these same skills to math!
~ Teach them a system of how to organize the information and how to show the work for any problem.
~ The students will work together and help each other. Isn't that how problems in real life are solved?
~ We will solve authentic problems that affect their daily lives.
~ We will use resources such as the wonderful book Comprehending Math by Arthur Hyde.
~ We will try to make it fun and exciting, not Charlie Brownish.
~ I will seek help from others. Will you help me? If you have any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, complaints, please let me know. I am looking for input.
My next problem is to figure out how to get my kids to sleep. That's a serious word problem. (Ugh!)
Stay tuned. I will keep you posted.