Saturday, January 26, 2013

Math Word Problems

Years ago, the district I worked for spent a lot of money training teachers on Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI).  Ever heard of it?  Well, it's a "philosophy" of teaching math through which the children develop their own strategies for solving a myriad of problem types.  I put "philosophy" in quotes because this was drilled into our heads- that it is not a teaching strategy but a way of looking at how children solve mathematical problems.  They showed us basic problem types and taught us how to write word problems using these different types.  They showed us how to choose the number with a purpose to get the children to try out different strategies for solving the problem.  We weren't supposed to teach strategies like counting on, matching, etc... Instead, through the problems types we chose and the numbers we used, students would discover these strategies on their own.  From what I understand, teacher who truly embrace CGI did nothing but word problems in their math curriculum.  I just couldn't do that, but I have to say that CGI certainly changed the way I teach math and the way I approach word problems.  I am now very aware of the types of problems I give to my students and purposefully choose numbers that will help them use a specific strategy.  I won't tell them to use the strategy or even teach it specifically.  I let the students "discover" the strategy on their own and then we name it and talk about it.  Here's one of my little girls on the Smart Board showing me how she used the counting up strategy to solve a word problem. She's showing that she made a group of 6 and a group of 3.  She explained that she said "6" and counted up on the 3 more to get her answer of 9. The counting up strategy was "discovered" very early in the year- it was Connor who first did it in our class this year.  For the longest time, kids would say, "I used Connor's counting up strategy" to get my answer.

The  problem types you can find here
And, if you look at the Common Core, you will find these problem types listed but called slightly different names. 
In my classroom, I use strips of word problems that I cut apart.  Then the students stick them into their math journals.  Here's my freebie for you. JRU Valentine Word Problems It includes 2 Join Result Unknown word problems. 
Another thing I love about CGI is that they encourage you to differentiate your numbers for different students.  If a student is at a higher (or lower) level that the majority of the class, you can give them different numbers.  So, the freebie includes the numbers I chose, but also blank one where you can write in the numbers you want the students to use.

1 comment:

  1. You have been nominated for a Liebstar Award! Congrats! Hop on by to see your entry: