Monday, May 11, 2009

Story Problems Inspire Authorship

from Robert Recorde’s Whetstone of Witte

A couple of my oldest students (6 yrs.) came to me the other day and asked if I could write some new story problems for them because they had solved all of the ones that were in the basket where they are kept.

"I am very busy working with these other students. It would be great if you two could write several yourselves so that I could add them to the others," I suggested.

"Write them ourselves? But then we would know the answers," Adam answered.

"Well, what if you both write a few on your own and then swap them. That way you could see if they read well enough to be solved by the other students," I said.

"That is a great idea and I am already thinking of one," Zoe said as she headed for the stack of writing paper.

Two months ago, I introduced story problems to these two students and after only a few problems they mastered the concept. By the end of the week they had finished all of the addition, subtraction, division and multiplication problems.

Adam does them in his head. Zoe used the large bead frame.

Both did excellent with the ones that I had prepared. My only concern about them writing their own was regarding whether or not they would invest time in the short narratives that make a story problem interesting. I was excited to read what they had composed when they approached me with their finished work. I had nothing to worry about.

Here are a few of their problems:

Above: There were five fish and two went to lunch. How many fish are there now?

Above: There was 10 bats. 5 went away. How many were left?

Above: There was one bird and three came. How many birds was there now?

Above: There was six cupcakes and two got eaten. How many cupcakes did they have now?

PS. Montessori by Hand (Sew Liberated) has a wonderful tutorial for making story / word problems and a felt envelope to keep them in. Follow the link below:

Montessori By Hand - Story Problems


P.S. Montessori said...

These are so great! I often overlook story problems... probably because I have them in a really tiny box. I think it's time to make some new ones that are as attractive as your students' problems!

melissa joanne said...

This is wonderful! Somehow I have never seen word problems in a Children's House classroom and hadn't considered presenting them, but you posted this when timing was perfect for my class. A couple of the soon to be graduates have reached that point where they are devouring books of all levels of difficulty, and they are loving math as well. Anything new I can place in the environment for them is a joy. I prepared ten word problems last night, and today all of them were solved by at least one child. They loved doing them!

Susan Y. Dyer said...

Yeah! I love it. There are many free word problems sheets available on-line that you can print out, edit and laminate. I keep an ever growing collection. After a while, ask them to write some themselves.

Word Problems are in my AMI Primary Album and Montessori By Hand (Sew Liberated) has a lovely tutorial for making them and a felt envelope to keep them in. Go back to this post and follow the link I have added.

Susan Dyer
The Moveable Alphabet