Decoding word problems
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Decoding Word Problems. Reading in the Content Areas Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools. Agenda. The Research Practice Strategies Patterns Headlines What’s my number? Cue Cards Additional Strategies Questions. Math & Language Development (McCallum & Whitlow, 1994).

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Decoding Word Problems

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Decoding word problems

Decoding Word Problems

Reading in the Content Areas

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools


Agenda

Agenda

  • The Research

  • Practice Strategies

    • Patterns

    • Headlines

    • What’s my number?

    • Cue Cards

  • Additional Strategies

  • Questions

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Math language development mccallum whitlow 1994

Math & Language Development (McCallum & Whitlow, 1994)

  • Experiential Level

    • Begins with physical contact with surroundings

    • Derives knowledge through direct experience with the world

    • Provides hands-on manipulation as basis of all learning

  • Connecting Level

    • Moves toward use of numbers or symbols to represent other objects/ideas

  • Symbolic Level

    • Frees symbolic forms from activity or manipulation

    • Reduces/Eliminates need to refer to the concrete

    • Allows for larger and more abstract concepts

  • Yet, at the foundation of abstraction lies the real world.

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Why do students struggle with math vocabulary barton heidema 2002

Why do students struggle with math vocabulary? (Barton & Heidema, 2002)

  • Conceptual density of mathematics text

  • Complex overlap between math vocabulary and “ordinary” English

    • radical, odd, average, difference, similar

  • Varied use and large number of math symbols and graphics

    • “+” = add, sum, increase, plus

  • Concepts embedded in other concepts

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Why are we focusing on word problems

Why are we focusing on word problems?

  • Word problems must be read and comprehended as regular text before the math computations can begin. 

  • Word problems present especially critical reading problems because not only can they be challenging mathematically but students having difficulty with vocabulary or specific reading miscues (such as word omissions) never actually work through the math— they get stuck trying to comprehend the written information. 

  • Research has indicated that math students who are directly taught strategies for reading math texts increased their comprehension of math problems and were better able to study from their math textbooks (Donahue, 2003; Ostler, 1997).

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Patterns

Patterns

  • Mathematics is based on establishing patterns.

  • Patterns for problem solving can help ensure that steps are not missed/skipped.

  • Patterns can be utilized in various ways.

  • Practice using patterns on the handout.

  • Which strategy seems most applicable to your classroom?

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Headlines

Headlines

  • Working backwards encourages students to write their own “story” problems.

  • Start with a simple number sentence and increase in difficulty.

  • Use the numbers and variables to develop a plausible explanation that makes the sentence true.

  • Select 3 of the 5 number sentences on the handout to write your own stories.

  • You may work alone or with a partner.

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


What s my number

What’s My Number?

  • Most word problems have embedded logic.

  • Logical reasoning with mathematical language can make word problems easier.

  • Use the clues and the number chart to determine the correct number.

  • You may work alone or with a partner.

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Cue cards

Cue Cards

  • Some math expressions can be verbalized in multiple ways.

  • Distinguishing among the options can help students decode word problems.

  • Match your “symbol” cards to the text-based information presented by the teacher.

  • Hold up the card that represents the words in symbolic form.

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Cue cards1

Cue Cards

A number n is less than 7

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Cue cards2

Cue Cards

The sum of a number n and 7

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Cue cards3

Cue Cards

A number n decreased by 7

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Cue cards4

Cue Cards

7 divided by a number n

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Cue cards5

Cue Cards

The product of a number n and 7

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Cue cards6

Cue Cards

  • Create your Own!

  • Write your own text-based expressions for 3 of your symbol cards.

  • Share with a partner.

  • Share with the class.

  • How might this activity support instruction in your classroom?

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Strategies for the classroom

Strategies for the Classroom

  • Decoding word problems is an essential skill regardless of skill or content level.

  • Playing with word problems can help students increase their comfort level.

  • Providing specific solution strategies can also help students be successful.

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Object boxes

Object Boxes

  • A manufacturing company is investigating the best way to ship its product. The boxes are most economical in the configuration of the models. What mathematical expression do the executives need to use to calculate how many objects can fit in a box?

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


Contact information

Contact Information

  • Alexandra Hoskins, RCA Program Specialist (6-12)

    • [email protected]

    • 336.727.2358 ext. 34216

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


References

References

  • Barton, Mary Lee, and Clare Heidema. Teaching Reading in Mathematics (2002). Aurora, CO: McREL.

  • Donahue, D. “Reading Across the Great Divide.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 47.1 (2003): 24-37.

  • McCallum, Richard, and Robert Whitlow. Linking Mathematics and Language: Practical Classroom Activities (1994). Markham, ONT: Pippin Publishing Limited.

  • Ostler, E. (1997). “The Effect of Learning Mathematic Reading Strategies in Secondary Students’ Homework Grades.” In G. Moss (Ed.), Critical Reading in the Content Areas (1997): 153-6. Dubuque, IA: McGraw-Hill/Dushkin.

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, 2007-8


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