Word problems! We all know them. Those sometimes frustrating, sometime confusing paragraphs of information that make us dread standardized tests. Well here at Seabury, we love them!
Washington State standards in math read:
Model with mathematics.
Mathematically proficient students ... are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions.
World problems are an amazing way to refine these skills.
This week we practiced deciphering word problems involving ratios, multiplication,and division. The focus was on how to create usable models in the form of equations.
We used our desks at whiteboard to brainstorm the problems. This has two effects. The first is that it's fun. It makes working out complex problems a little more appealing even for the less seasoned mathematician.
The second is that it makes it more memorable. One of the big struggles we find in math is retention. Getting students to remember math methods can sometimes mean relying on novel approaches. Sometimes it's just about presenting the information in a different way.