3rd grade math TAKS test is on April 27th. That doesn't leave us with too much time left.
Aside from kids still struggling with the concepts, we have at least covered a lot of the material. Operations, patterns, rounding, measurement, fractions, geometry, etc.
The past few weeks and the next few weeks have been and will be over tougher stuff: The Word Problems.
Most word problems follow some sort of logical path. Most 3rd graders do not. So while it might make perfect sense that if somebody gives away 5 pencils, they should then have LESS pencils than they started with... prompting subtraction...that's not always the way it works out.
Last week, we focused on Two-Step Word Problems. Talk about your basic whipping. There are THREE numbers in the problem now?? We HAVE to add/subtract them all at the same time!!
Usually, when we walk through a problem together, logic prevails. The kids, even the low ones, can tell me when they should add, when they should subtract. The problem arises when the kids face the questions on their own. The main problem being that many of the kids don't actually read the problem or think about what the words mean.
Remember that Far Side cartoon captioned, "What dogs hear?" where the owner said, "Spot, fetch my slippers! Good boy, Spot, that's a good boy, Spot!" and the dog hears, "Spot, blah blah blah blah blah blah, Spot, blah blah blah blah Spot!"
Word problems act in much the same way for a lot of kids.
Blah blah blah blah blah blah 15 blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah 3 blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah?
Ooooooh, I spy, with my tiny little eye, two numbers!! The magic 8 ball in my head says to.... ADD them!
Then the teacher, ME, reads their answer and wonders why the heck each friend has 18 hotdogs, if Alex started with 15 hotdogs and split them up evenly among 3 friends. (Nevermind the fact that they added hotdogs and friends and magically turned them all to hotdogs.)
We start "Reasonableness"-type questions tomorrow. A bit too unreasonable, if you ask me.