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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Houston, we have a word problem

The other math teachers and I had a brilliant idea last week. We figured that a great way to help the kids get even better with math problems AND to save ourselves the effort of searching through books for good homework was to have the kids to ALL of the work. So their "test" yesterday was to write their own word problems. They were allowed to write as many as they wanted, but they had to write at least one problem that required addition and at least one problem that required subtraction.

And no matter how frustrated I get with these kids sometimes, I always find myself very pleasantly surprised when I ask them to get creative. Some of the problems that I received were outstandingly written, and some were endearingly hilarious. However, it was quite clear that all of my kids put their best effort forward yesterday.

Today, I will share with you some of the problems that will most likely be appearing on next week's homework and/or test, and some of the problems that just weren't quite up to snuff, but which are very fun to read.

First, a few of the best:

"J has 24 suckers and he gave K 10 of them. How many suckers did he have left?"
-- this might not seem so special, but it came from one of my absolute lowest students.

"B's mom baked her a cake because it was her birthday. B invited two friends, D and A. D ate 10 pieces. A ate three more pieces than D. How many pieces did A eat?"
-- good use of extra information here, as well as numbers in word form.

"On Friday, I had a test of addition and there were 12 problems. I only finished 5 of them. How many more did I need to do?"
-- a great subtraction problem that doesn't involved anything being given or taken away.

And now a few I found pretty funny:

"J and G went to school. J did the Pledge of Allegiance 20 times. The next day, G did the Pledge of Allegiance 50 times. How many times did they do it all together?"
-- I'm telling you, I make them recite it until they get it right, doggone it!

"T had 5 sisters. 2 of them went to college. How many sisters does he have now?"
-- well, still 5 I think. Unless of course, they went to Carolina, in which case it would stand to reason that they are dead to him.

"Yesterday, the temperature was 34° F. What will be the change in temperature during the night?"
-- more a question for our meteorologists than our third-graders.

"Mister Teacher has 99 markers. He received 900 more markers. Mister Teacher has a nice haircut. How many markers does Mister Teacher have in all?"
-- interesting choice of random extra information...

And finally, a question from one of my little girls who just doesn't understand the concept...

"D had $22 in his account. He spent $32 for his lunch. How many more money does he have left?"


Anonymous said...

too funny. I'm happy I ran across your blog. I work for Ruby Payne, have you heard of her? She could have used a few of your stories... Keep fighting the good fight. :)

Mike in Texas said...

At least you didn't get:

"Mr. Teacher had 4 beers during happy hour and 3 beers after happy hour ended. How many more beers will he have to drink before he passes out?"

Mister Teacher said...

No, I don't think I've ever heard of Ruby Payne -- but I've heard of Ruby Tuesday. :) And if you like the stories on my blog, you should check out my novel, Learn Me Good.

Mike, maybe I'll get a few problems like that after we go over capacity -- pints, liters, etc.

Sara said...

Sadly, when I do a similar activity with my sixth graders, the word problems I get are about at that level.