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.

Graphing and Writing

Doris Young has a great blog and posted an activity that encourages students to think about the purpose for graphing.  So, if you are graphing with your students and teaching them that graphs are used to track information, I encourage you to take a look at Doris’ post.  She got her students to think deeper about graphing and then to analyze their graphs.  The students wrote their mathematical thinking in a thought bubble above a picture of themselves.  Doris posted the graphs, the pictures, and the thought bubbles on the bulletin board for the class to see and discuss.

View her blog here.
View this activity 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 Journals

Susan Carter integrated math and writing workshop by having her students write in a math journal.  Each journal was divided into three sections: Strategies, Questions, and Reflections.  Students would write in their math journal at the end of each math lesson.  Ms. Carter began by using several sentence frames to model mathematical writing for her students.  Here are a few examples:

“At first I was going to try _____, but then I decided to _____.”
“I thought about what _____ said the other day and decided to try his/her strategy.”
“Once I found where I got stuck, I tried the problem again from the beginning.  This time I decided to try _____.”

Then, Ms. Carter taught her students to write mathematical stories, which they shared in the Author’s Chair.  This sharing time, which integrates math and communication, also led to math conversations among students, helping them to think about their strategies and revise their thinking.

Read all about Ms. Carter’s experience integrating math and writing workshop here.

Carter, S. (2009, April). Connecting mathematics and writing workshop: It’s kinda like ice skating. The Reading Teacher, 62(7), 606-610. doi:10.1598/‌RT.62.7.7