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Welcome to my math blog! The purpose of this blog is to help you stay informed about our learning and experiences that have taken place during our math class. I have also included links your child (and you) may want to use in order to supplement math learning in 5th grade.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Solving Word Problems using our Algebra Model (Day 2)

We worked with solving word problems using the algebra model that we have been focusing on for the past few weeks.  It is a slow process, but it seems to be helping students to focus on the meaning of the problem.  

For many students the most difficult part of math is decoding the problem (what is being asked, what parts of the problem are needed, which parts are not needed, which operation(s) should I use, which one should I do first.... ).  Many of my students assume a problem is "hard" because there are words.  Wouldn't all of us love to have math thrown at us in ways like "What is 4 + 4?"?!?!  Instead, we spend our entire day solving mathematical problems that are multi-step word problems.... we just don't write them down.

Think about it.  As you are going through the grocery store, more than likely you are on a budget.  You know how much you have to spend and you have no intention of going over (no matter how much your child wants that sugary cereal and is letting the entire store know!).  So, as you walk the aisles and place items in your cart, you are either keeping a mental estimation going, or you are using the calculator on your phone.  This is problem solving.

Math does not come at us in the form of algorithms.... it comes at us as a multi-step problem we have to work through.  The same is being asked of our kids.  The expectation is that students should be able to work through a real life situation (most of these situations ADULTS don't have to go through, much less a 10 year old) and be able to determine the best possible way to solve the problem and achieve the correct answer.

After looking at the data between the released STAAR Math Benchmark that I gave on December 2 (which is full of 50 problems, most of them very difficult multi-step and many-worded), and the Renaissance Place STAR Math that they took online yesterday (34 problems, with few examples of word problems), I noticed a pattern.  My students performed much higher on yesterday's assessment.  I feel that it was because they were faced with straight algorithms that they understood instead of monster word problems that they have to wade through for meaning.

Please encourage your child to read.  Please.  The more exposure they have to written material the larger their vocabulary will become.  The larger to vocabulary, the easier it is to decode meaning.

HOMEWORK:  Countdown 8

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