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Home : 2005 : Jan : 19

    Teaching strategies
    By Tracy

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    I have found that with my 4th graders and even my daughter who is a fourth grader, the main reason why word problems are so difficult is becasue they don't have the tools. I begin teaching strategies in September so that by May (state test), they have at least 8 strategies to use. My problem solving involves underlining the questions and circling all necessary info. This allows them to just focus on what is important. After this, we decide which strategy is best and why. We actually have a discussion to support which strategy they chose. I find that this helps because some students just like to draw a picture for each problem and they must understand that drawing a picture doesn't work all the time or isn't the best strategy to use. We don't do this all the time b/c it is so time consuming, but sometimes that is the lesson. I may then assign the actual problem for HW. At times I may then have them use 2 strategies to solve a problem and then decide which is best and why. We do problem solving first thing during the period when they are fresh. I have been teaching for 11 years and this has proven to work for me. You still have some who won't get it, but unfortunately, they are the ones that struggle in all areas. Some rise to the occasion when they have the proper tools. I use the Figure It Out math series for this. I begin with Grade 2, then move to Grade 3 as their skills improve and by the end of the year we have completed Grade 4. I also use a lot of games from Family Math which helps their problem solving skills. Lastly, I assign a Problem of the Week so their parents are also aware of where they need help. This problem is given on Monday and turned in on Friday with parent's signature.

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