Thursday, March 19, 2015

Four Tips for Teaching Common Core Word Problems

Hi everyone! It's Katie from Simply Creative in KY!
Today I'm here to share with you my take on Common Core word problems. I know there are many of you out there that HATE word problems. To be honest, when I first started teaching, I didn't like them either... mostly because my kids struggled with them! 

But now... Well, now I LOVE them. Starting at the very beginning of the year I've focused my teaching of word problems using these four things, and I think it's working! 

When teaching students to solve word problems, I never put a huge emphasis on memorizing all of the key words (altogether, fewer, how many more, in all, together, decrease, less than, etc.). I say this because many students learn those key words and think that there's only ONE way to solve a problem when, in fact, there could be multiple ways to solve a problem. I'm always amazed by the thinking going on in those little brains, and it's even more exciting when they verbalize it! When students are guided to freely think about problems in a variety of ways, it can make a huge difference!

Here's an example of a problem where students could solve with addition OR subtraction:
**Disclaimer: I'm not saying if you teach key words that it's bad! I think they're important for students to know, but I don't think they're vital for success when solving word problems.
From the very beginning of the year, I ALWAYS have my students act out word problems. The students become actors and actresses and are up in front of the room acting out what's happening in the problem. Whatever the story problem is about, I pull out any manipulatives I can find to make the story seem as real as possible. I've used containers of plastic bugs, pom pom balls, erasers, books, uni-fix cubes -- ANYTHING I can find! When the students get a chance to act out every sentence in a problem, it makes them come alive. Then, when they go to actually solve it, they have truly made sense of what is happening in the problem.
Instead of strictly teaching a word problem unit, teach word problems within your daily math instruction. I always start my math block with a 5-minute warm-up review/skill. I try have at least 2 days a week where that time is devoted to word problems. The more you practice them, the better your students will become at solving them!
Call me a math nerd, but I LOVE this Common Core math guide. 
If you've never seen this chart, take a minute to read it. On the left side it shows the different types of problems where the situations are adding to, taking from, putting together/taking apart, and comparing. I like to read the chart horizontally, looking at each type of problem.

Before truly understanding this Common Core guide years ago, I didn't realize how many different problems types are out there! You can create so many different problem types instead of sticking solely with result unknown problems. I like to use this guide to help me write my own word problems. I'll pull it out when I'm writing them, insert student names to make it engaging and realistic, and choose a few different problem type formats to help me.
I hope you've found these four tips helpful, and hopefully there's something you can use in your classroom! If you're in need of Common Core word problem resources, you may want to check out all of the word problem resources for K-2 students in my TPT shop!

See you all next month!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the common core word problem guide! We have a PD day tomorrow on curriculum revisions and I am in the math group - - this will be helpful for the others to really understand ways our math curriculum is lacking!!!

    The Weekly Sprinkle