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Here's a Juicy One! Word Problems


salsa

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"Erica bought five pencils for 30 cents each and two books for $1.00 each. How much money did she spend?"

Lydia- "I don't know what to do. Can I just draw a picture of Erica?" And Lydia isn't my only child who gets hung up on the "story" of the word problems.

nitw4ladies.blogspot ... from April 4.

Fundie Lites - the girls wear shorts. But Lydia appears to be 9 years old.

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Lots of kids have trouble with word problems and need to draw to visualize them, however I'm not sure if that's what is going on here. If it is, a good teacher would help the child overcome this by helping them to understand how to visualize the problem in their head. I have to do this. When I read it I mentally pictured the books and pencils with price tags and added them up that way. I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this. I had to be taught that it wasn't "cheating" to do so. One of my kids has to write the numbers down separately. You do what you have to sometimes.

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True. And the author doesn't say how (or whether) she helped her daughter resolve the issue. Drawing a picture of her with pencils and books would be one way to help teach her. I suppose I was reacting to the SOTDRT and "girls just want to draw and not bother their heads with hard stuff like math" that I read into the post.

My bad. The blog itself, which I just found today, is pretty boring, IMO.

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For figuring out how much she spent on pencils, I multiplied 5 by 3, which equals 15.Then I added the zero to 15. From there, it was easy to figure out how much two books for 1 dollar each cost ( 2 dollars ) and how much she spent total.

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For figuring out how much she spent on pencils, I multiplied 5 by 3, which equals 15.Then I added the zero to 15. From there, it was easy to figure out how much two books for 1 dollar each cost ( 2 dollars ) and how much she spent total.

I basically did the same thing only I had a mental picture of the variables in my head. Math is hard for some people until they learn how to think it through in the way that works best for them.

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Pictures are a useful tool for math...and a fun one.

(at some point they *can* become a crutch, but, el age kids? draw away--I remember learning about addition w/ pictures of penguins on ice flows :)).

But you can't just draw a picture of Erica.

You draw a picture of the 'stuff' that Erica has taht's relevant. And then change that picture into math.

If I were drawing it, it'd look like:

book.gif...........$1.00

book.gif...........$1.00

pencil.gif............$0.30

pencil.gif............$0.30

pencil.gif............$0.30

pencil.gif............$0.30

pencil.gif............$0.30

Which should, depending on the age of the kids, become EITHER:

$1.00 + 1.00 + .30 + .30 + .30+ .30+ .30

or

($1.00 x2) + ($.30 x 5)

Of course, if you can get the concept out of the drawing, I don't care how you draw Erica. I'm a fan of creative drawings for math and physics problems--as long as the problem can be solved :)

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Pictures and highlighters are how I learned story problems. My first intro to word problems didn't even include working out the answer, it was reading the problem, highlighting the important bits and draw something out Dawbs showed.

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dawbs, if you had been my math teacher when I was small I might have fulfilled my dreams of being an architect or an archaeologist. Instead I was smacked with rulers and told I was a stupid little girl like all little girls. :(

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Not to go all 'Piaget's theory' on this...but, in the room where I'm sitting *right now* (designed to help w/ math, it's what we do around here :)), if someone (at college level) had trouble w/ getting the right information out of that problem (we actually DO problems like that--we work w/ a lot of 'developmental'--used to be called remedial/adult ed. math), I'd actually have them go back one step FURTHER than drawing.

Start with items you can physically manipulate. There's a reason there are 20 boxes of counting blocks on the shelf opposite me.

After they can get it w/ manipulation of physical objects, THEN we go on to pictures.

Methinks the kid would get a lot out of being given a handful of change and a handful of objects to do her story-problem with.

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Yup, and being able to draw pictures of what the math is describing is a hugely valuable skill. I used to teach chemistry and so many students could do the math (basic algebra), but couldn't draw a picture to show what was happening in the equation. Both are important

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dawbs, if you had been my math teacher when I was small I might have fulfilled my dreams of being an architect or an archaeologist. Instead I was smacked with rulers and told I was a stupid little girl like all little girls. :(

I'm sorry.

I do a lot of 'clean up' from that at my job. People have avoided math for years, suddenly need it for college, are already behind, and come to see us...they are terrified of math because of years of that crap--and we have to 'unlearn' a lot of fear and negative thinking (I can't do it) so they can take a deep breath and do it.

(although I DID have someone super-excited last week that math had gotten FUN for the first time in her 40 years :lol: )

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Not to go all 'Piaget's theory' on this...but, in the room where I'm sitting *right now* (designed to help w/ math, it's what we do around here :)), if someone (at college level) had trouble w/ getting the right information out of that problem (we actually DO problems like that--we work w/ a lot of 'developmental'--used to be called remedial/adult ed. math), I'd actually have them go back one step FURTHER than drawing.

Start with items you can physically manipulate. There's a reason there are 20 boxes of counting blocks on the shelf opposite me.

After they can get it w/ manipulation of physical objects, THEN we go on to pictures.

Methinks the kid would get a lot out of being given a handful of change and a handful of objects to do her story-problem with.

This - I used to teach elementary (11-13 year olds), and giving items thy could manipulate made all the difference. This was true for all levels, but especially my struggling students!

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If was weirded out by her "parenting through failure" entry (around April 14/15ish? I closed the window). She seems to imply that embarrassment/natural consequences with teach kids not to put off practicing and learning things. Which, honestly, I don't disagree with. If my kid decides to sign up for music lessons, and then decides not to practice, it's not my problem if they botch a recital. However, she then asks about the kids who doesn't need to practice, but is still good enough to not be embarrassed. She vaguely seems threatening about such a child...and then doesn't address the issue at all. She also never even considers my predicament, which was the child who was naturally talented, didn't need much practice, but was always so extremely nervous at recitals that I could barely play. I could play nearly perfectly during lessons with hardly any practice, but I was literally so nervous that my whole body would shake before and during a piano recital. She seemed to be on the right track about let kids make their own mistakes, but I wished she had elaborated on what she meant by:

What if she's able to not practice and still get by in the class? Then there are obedience and pride issues to deal with. The teacher told her to practice, and who does she think she is that she doesn't have something to learn by the practice?
It seems like an aggressive quote, but nothing more is made of it. I don't think I would have done well under her rule.

ETA: Maybe I'm overly sensitive from my years of enforced recitals. I loved lessons, but was paralyzed with fear over recitals.

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dawbs, if you had been my math teacher when I was small I might have fulfilled my dreams of being an architect or an archaeologist. Instead I was smacked with rulers and told I was a stupid little girl like all little girls. :(

Ditto. I love how I was told, after studying for 3+ hours a day, daily, for 2 weeks before a test that I ended up getting a 32% on, that I wasn't studying enough. :(

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But you can't just draw a picture of Erica.

That.

I don't know the child and I don't know the mom, but if she's trying that desperately to get out of finding a way to do the math, or being taught how to do it, she may be either learning disabled or just has a lazy teacher.

Of course, the author didn't give us the whole scenario and we have no idea if the child was joking.

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Yup, and being able to draw pictures of what the math is describing is a hugely valuable skill. I used to teach chemistry and so many students could do the math (basic algebra), but couldn't draw a picture to show what was happening in the equation. Both are important

Being able draw a picture of what the problem is describing IS a hugely valuable skill, but that IS NOT what this girl was doing.

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When I was teaching kids who were borderline (called special day class) and they couldn't read at a kindergarten level, I asked the math teacher who was frustrated, how they were supposed to solve word problems. The district didn't make any provisions for manipulatives which would have helped these kids immensely. I also found that some of the kids were above average artists. They could not read but they could draw and paint. But that wouldn't get them out of high school. The more severely mentally handicapped kids had much more available to them than these kids did.

:(

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Being able draw a picture of what the problem is describing IS a hugely valuable skill, but that IS NOT what this girl was doing.

Not if she's just drawing Erica, no. But we don't know for sure. Sorry for not being more clear.

ETA: I didn't read the post, I was ony phone on a break at my volunteering gig. I was agreeing with the several posts ahead of me.

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I think I'm one in a million, but word problems are much easier for me to solve than numerical ones.

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If the girl wanted to draw out what was bought to help her figure it out, okay. But she was wanting to draw a picture of the girl in the problem and didn't seem concerned about anything else.

I've heard argument that word problems are pointless, and if the problem is (5X.30)+(1x2), why not just ask that, but the purpose of word problems is to teach kids to figure out what info they need to solve the problem and how to figure it out. So these are important problems. When a child is focusing on the part of the problem that's not a part of the equation, and the parent doesn't try to direct the child to the parts that are needed to solve it, then there's a whole different problem. They need to figure out how to either direct her to the math part or figure out a different way to help her figure it out. I hope they're not showing exasperation at the kids getting hung up on the part of the problem that's the not-needed part, which would only teach that learning and math are negative things.

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I think I'm one in a million, but word problems are much easier for me to solve than numerical ones.

I'm the same way, and I actually think we approach teaching math exactly backwards. So what if a kid can remember that 3+4=7? If it's just symbols on a page, it's nothing more than memorizing trivia. Kids should learn from the very beginning that those symbols actually represent real life things. I think it could do a lot to change the misconception that math is obscure and not useful in daily life. I realize there is a reading barrier because kids learn arithmetic at the same time they are learning to read, but there are other ways to do it, like physical objects that others have suggested. Kids should learn about combining groups of small toys and THEN learn that there are symbols to represent the thing that they've already been doing.

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I always did the best at word problems. Not surprisingly, I have a high verbal score and a terrible math score! All math problems must be translated into language for me to get them. Makes doing math slightly inconvenient.

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I'm the same way, and I actually think we approach teaching math exactly backwards. So what if a kid can remember that 3+4=7? If it's just symbols on a page, it's nothing more than memorizing trivia. Kids should learn from the very beginning that those symbols actually represent real life things. I think it could do a lot to change the misconception that math is obscure and not useful in daily life. I realize there is a reading barrier because kids learn arithmetic at the same time they are learning to read, but there are other ways to do it, like physical objects that others have suggested. Kids should learn about combining groups of small toys and THEN learn that there are symbols to represent the thing that they've already been doing.

One of the very few things I remember from my SOTDRT math was the equations had little pictures accompanying the numbers. Probably one the few things it did right.

Reminds me, I have a SF story tucked away in the back of my head where one of the cultures developed written language,but never numerals, so they understood mathematics but never codified it into its own doctrine...

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When I was teaching kids who were borderline (called special day class) and they couldn't read at a kindergarten level, I asked the math teacher who was frustrated, how they were supposed to solve word problems. The district didn't make any provisions for manipulatives which would have helped these kids immensely. I also found that some of the kids were above average artists. They could not read but they could draw and paint. But that wouldn't get them out of high school. The more severely mentally handicapped kids had much more available to them than these kids did.

:(

This is a problem in many schools that is often not talked about because it's not considered to be PC to talk about increasing services to the students who are normal track even if they're borderline if it might mean decreasing how much is spent on services for the severely handicapped, even when this means the borderline kids end up falling behind and dropping out. Problem is one group of kids will be the group to provide the financial support for the other, but the priority is on providing services to the receiving-support group. When we let normal-track kids fall behind and drop out, they are more likely to join the second group, placing a higher financial burden on the supporting group. And this doesn't even hit on the advanced kids who are in every way expected to fend for themselves and just open a library book. While education is important for all, I think it's awful how normal-track and advanced students are going to be the ones to bear the brunt of spending cuts.

Those bright kids you taught probably thought they were destined to be failures, and so quit, when all it might have taken to break through to them was a couple different teaching tools.

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