Thursday, February 4, 2010

Learning To Do Math Story Problems

Math word problems were always a "problem" for me when I was a student (love my pun?). I never really got them down well, so how did I get through all that college? It's certainly a wonder! 

As a homeschooler, I want my children to be successful in areas even if I was not, but especially in skills that they will use every day. Word problems utilize many essential math skills that will come up again and again in real life, and so for my girls, really learning how to solve these is a must.

This summer, I came across an item from company called Crystal Springs Books. Tucked away in the math section was a new set of books that had one word problem a day for each grade level. At first, I thought there was no way they could really learn how to do them thoroughly with just one problem a day, but then the practice would be at least a help, so I decided to spend the money, make the purchase, and give it a try. 

Good investment? That would be an understatement.

In the book The 8-Step Model Drawing, which I believe has been renamed Step-by-Step Model Drawing, we learned how to go through eight different steps and draw blocks to help visualize what the problem is asking. The student eventually memorizes these steps to help them tackle most any word problem they come up against.

I should mention that I took my 5th grader through this book first, before going to the grade level Word Problems. It helped me learn along side her so that I could help her if she got stuck. My second grader I taught as we went along in her grade appropriate book with one problem each day. This seemed to work well for her because she was doing fairly easy problems, but every now in then has challenged her a bit. 

Here are a couple of sample pages from the Step-by-Step Model Drawing book:

You can see these better if you go to the Crystal Springs Books website. Keep in mind, it isn't a cheap curriculum, but worth every penny in my opinion! And even though it says it's "The Singapore Way", there is nothing uniquely "Singapore" about it. Any student could use this as a supplement to their existing math curriculum if you learn the model approach.

After completing the book on the model approach, we started the grade level books that have one problem a day. Again, this supplements their existing math and takes about 5 minutes each day. This is one of our warm-ups for math each morning.

For one student, it will run you about $42 without shipping and tax. But, the teacher key is for two grade levels and can be reused as well as the model approach book. For a second student, you would only need the $10 grade level book and perhaps an answer key if they are several grades apart ($7). 

We're on about day 85 right now with just under 100 still to go, and I'm shocked... no, thrilled!... at what they've learned to solve in less than half the school year and for such a small investment of time! This has truly been a boon for our homeschooling students! I'd love to shout it from the roof top.. BUY THESE and DO ONE A DAY!

Now... I'd like to know exactly where were these when I was a kid?

This post is not a compensated ad. I'm sharing our personal story and promoting this item because of our own success with this product.


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