Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thinking Mathematically

Why do so many students have difficulties with word problems?

These two chapters interestingly and adequately enlightens me about why students often get frustrated when first attempting to tackle a problem, especially the word problem.    Often it is because we have not spent enough time to actually understand the problem.     This sounds funny, but it's true!   The entry step can be broken down into writing down:   "What I know",  "What I want to find",  and "What can I introduce".    Writing, and perhaps diagramming, the answers to these questions,   will help understand the problem,  and guide towards how we can now attack the problem.     When students are STUCK, we can guide them back to ask these entry questions,  breaking down the problem,  and eliminating some of the the fear and frustrations.   Spending sufficient time in the entry stage, gives students the confidence to continue, and reach the "got it!" moment.   This habit of dwelling and returning to re-examine the problem again helps to shape and guide our thinking.    We want students to not waste time going down unnecessary paths, and consequently feeling discouraged.

As teachers,  we should emphasize to students the importance of thoroughly understanding the problem first.   Once this groundwork is done,  solving word problems will not be as ominous a task.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice!

    i'll be interested to hear your ideas on word problems when we do a workshop on them in class too.