As I posted about a few weeks ago, I've been trying a new method with word problems with my kids. One that has them focus more on the question first and only on the aspects of the problem that they really need. I've been pretty encouraged by how it's gone. Clearly, some of the kids are still a little tied to the old system, which makes me think that if I start the new method from day 1 next year, it will be even better.
Still, the kids this year are coming along pretty well. On Wednesday, I had a problem solving day. I gave each pair of kids a word problem that had extra information or some other trick in it, and had them work together to solve it on a big piece of paper. I found that the kids weren't quite as far along the slope as I had thought they were. Some of them weren't paying attention to the units or dividing when they should be multiplying, or making their tables all wrong. A lot of the extra information was being included in the "See" box, when it should be ignored. But we talked about things, and I think got a lot set right.
Then on Thursday, I presented them with "The Big One." I made up the biggest, longest, most complicated problem that I've given them all year. Here's what it said:
Billy and his 3 friends caught 18 worms on Saturday. Then they went to a restaurant and bought 5 hamburgers for a total of $10.50. Each boy ate 12 french fries. Each boy got 3 napkins. Then they saw 6 of their friends. How many french fries did Billy and his friends eat in all?
I set them loose on this bad boy, and I was very pleased to see most of them get it right. For the most part, the kids did not circle or include the extra information in the "see" box. Nobody got fooled by the napkin sentence. Even the kids who got it wrong, were close. They only counted 3 boys and forgot Billy, or they added the 6 friends who were seen at the end.
This gives me hope that maybe my kids ARE becoming better "math detectives" after all!
Now if I could just get them to learn their times tables!!!