I Have … Who Has?

Have you played this game with your students?  It’s great for listening, reading, and any math skills you’d like your students to practice.

If you’re practicing subtraction, for example, The first student calls out, “I have 7, who has 3 less?”  The student with the answer, calls out, “I have 4, who has ___” and the game continues until you reach the student whose card says “I have ____.  End.”

You can download free game cards from the Math n Stuff website, here.

Or visit Sandra Fiorini’s website, The Teaching Oasis, to download these free skip counting game cards, here.


Math Story Problems

Have you read Debbie Diller’s book Math Work Stations?  It’s full of really great math centers ideas!  While Lory read the book, she posted about what she’d learned through each chapter on her blog: Lory’s Page.  After reading Chapter 5, Lory posted about some math activities and I noticed her section about math story problems.

I have created classroom books in reading class but this is a great idea to create a classroom book in math class.  Students can write their own story problems and you can keep adding their story problems to the Classroom Story Problem book.  Lory says when students finish an assignment early, they are allowed to work on any of the problems in the class book.

To get started with this kind of project, create sentence frames that students can copy and add details.  Also, incorporate reading by encouraging students to write a math story problem that follows the structure of fiction stories or, for a challenge, create story problem poetry!

For example, have students write their math story problem following the fiction genre sentence frame: “Somebody … wanted … but … so … then …”

Imagine how many story problems you’ll have by the end of the year!

Head over to Jen’s blog, Runde’s Room, to download your free copy of her “Somebody Wanted But So Then” organizer poster, here.

Word Problems and Literacy

Suggestions for working with word problems and incorporating literacy:

1. Use word problems as a way to establish mnemonic imagery for a math concept.
2. Present word problems orally or audiovisually.
3. Have students write longer math stories.
4. Write word problem poems or verse.
5. Draw word problems (without text).
6. Sing word problems or write word problem music.

Gerofsky, S. (2004). A man left albuquerque heading east: Word problems as genre in mathematics education. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Math and Children’s Books

Suggestions for using children’s literature in your math lessons:

1. Enjoy the story – don’t interrupt with math questions.
2. Read the book aloud.  Repeat.
3. Keep the book experience open-ended to engage multiple interpretations.
4. Encourage students to respond to the stories through various forms of expression: poetry, drama, art, narrative, orally.
5. Integrate the books into current themes of study.
6. Use your students as a guide for deciding what to read.
7. Consider your students’ age and your intended use of a book to decide if oral or silent reading is appropriate.

Whitin, D. J., & Wilde, S. (1992). Read any good math lately? Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Communicate Mathematically

In their article, Watch Your Language! Recommendations to Help Students Communicate Mathematically, Bratina and Lipkin “suggest methods to help students improve their critical reading skills and to become better problem solvers” (p. 3).  Here are a few of their suggestions:

1: Include specific language arts activities in mathematics lessons
Use frequent, regular, and brief word wall activities (Bratina & Lipkin, p. 4).

2. Create instances for students to experience words in different contexts
For example, include true-false items such as, “Some squares are rectangles.” or “All squares are rectangles.” or “Some rectangles are squares.”  Items like these will lead to mathematical conversations and help students to comprehend complex statements (Bratina & Lipkin, p. 5).

3. Provide time for students to practice the language.
“Both comprehension and accuracy are essential for the development of proficiency in mathematics, and should precede attempts to perform operations with speed.  But once the students have grasped the meanings of mathematical words and symbols, they need to become fluent in using this mathematical language” (Bratina & Lipkin, p. 7).
Just as students need to master the basics of reading and then practice reading fluently and for comprehension, similarly students need to master the basics of math and then practice math for automaticity.

Suggestions for practicing the language of math:
Say it out loud
Cloze procedures
Games such as word searches, crossword puzzles, and cryptograms

4. Praise student perseverance
“When students are engaged in problem-solving exercises, have them read the entire problem before trying to analyze and dissect it.  Then have them read it again.  And again!  In other words, let the students know that instantaneous understanding is not the norm” (Bratina & Lipkin, p. 9).
Instead of asking, “Does everyone understand what we just read?”, ask students to restate or rewrite the problem in their own words.

5. Be a role model (Bratina & Lipkin, p. 10)
Set up a bulletin board as a “Wall of Fame” and post pictures of students when you catch them performing well, such as exhibiting strong communication skills.  Share examples of “real” people who are role models and involved in the communication and mathematics world, such as news anchors, and the first female shuttle commander, Air Force Colonel Eileen Collins.

You can find Bratina & Lipkin’s full article here.