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Little Thomas’s Big Problem. A Choose Your Own Adventure Story About Problem Solving By . Jennifer Powers. 1. Chapter One… Little Thomas learns to Identify the Problem 2. Chapter Two Little Thomas begins to List the Possibilities 3. Chapter Three

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little thomas s big problem

Little Thomas’s Big Problem

A Choose Your Own Adventure Story About Problem Solving

By

Jennifer Powers

table of contents
1. Chapter One…

Little Thomas learns to Identify the Problem

2. Chapter Two

Little Thomas begins to List the Possibilities

3. Chapter Three

Little Thomas Puts it to Work

4. Chapter Four

Little Thomas learns to Apply and Retry

Table of Contents
slide3
Click here if you think Little Thomas should…

Run away, screaming as loudly as he can!

Click here if you think Little Thomas should…

Take a deep breath and follow STEP 1 of the Problem Solving Process

Little Thomas was nervous about his first day of third grade. He had heard stories about all the science and math problems he would be working on this year. He hated science and especially hated math. He just knew third grade would be terrible. His parents did everything they could to assure him that third grade would be wonderful. Thomas wasn’t so sure but he walked into his classroom hopeful this year would turn out okay. Then he saw it. It was like a whole book written in big black letters on the whiteboard. No. It couldn’t be. Oh no! It was a word problem. What should Little Thomas do?

little thomas takes a deep breath
Little Thomas takes a deep breath….

and decides to tackle his problem. He raises his hand and asks for help. His very kind and stunningly beautiful teacher tells him about STEP 1 of the Problem Solving Process.

Identify the Problem

slide6

So, Little Thomas looked back at the massive problem and tried to figure out what the problem was asking him to do. He asked himself some questions. First he asked, “What are they wanting me to do?” Then he asked, “What clues did they give me? Are there any clue words?” Suddenly the problem became clear. Little Thomas understood what he was supposed to find out. He had identified the problem! What should Little Thomas do next?

  • Click here if you think Little Thomas should…

Run away, screaming down the hall, “Third grade is too hard. I’ll never figure this problem out. There is no way to solve it!”

  • Click here if you think Little Thomas should…

Feel proud of taking on this challenge and begin working on STEP 2 of the Problem Solving Process

little thomas is very proud of himself
Little Thomas is very proud of himself….

because he has accomplished the hardest part of solving a problem. He figured out what the problem was asking him to do. Now he needs to figure out how to solve it. Once again he turns to his brilliant and caring teacher for support. She tells him about STEP 2 of the Problem Solving Process.

List the Possibilities

slide9
Click here if you think Little Thomas should…

Run away, screaming throughout the school and stopping anyone he could find to babble confusingly about choices.

Click here if you think Little Thomas should…

Wipe the sweat off his forehead, pick up his pencil and begin STEP 3 of the Problem Solving Process.

Little Thomas decided to make a list of the different ways he could solve his problem. He wrote some of his choices down on his paper. Thinking about all the strategies was fun. Before he realized it, he had listed six choices. “How did that happen?” He thought to himself. He was clearly surprised at how interested he had become in the problem. Could he be enjoying problem solving? Little Thomas decided not to think about it and focus on what he needed to do next. Then it hit him. He didn’t know what to do next. His old fears came back to him and he began to panic. What should he do?

little thomas wiped the sweat off his forehead picked up his pencil and
Little Thomas wiped the sweat off his forehead, picked up his pencil and…

didn’t do a thing. He just could not think about what to do next. He was afraid to raise his hand again. It was the first day of school and he had already asked for his teacher’s help twice. What would she think of him? So he just sat and pretended to work.

Luckily she was the most observant and perceptive teacher in the world. (Feel free to ask your wonderful teacher what perceptive means.) She noticed his look of frustration and went over to help.

“Did I forget to tell you about STEP 3 of the Problem Solving Process?” She inquired. “Oh how silly

of me. It’s called…”

Put It To Work

slide12
Click here if you think Little Thomas should…

Run away, screaming and dancing up and down the hallways about what a genius he must be to have solved such a difficult problem on his first day of school.

Click here if you think Little Thomas should…

Stay in his seat, definitely not dance, and keep going by following STEP 4 of the Problem Solving Process.

Little Thomas was still a little confused about what to do but he trusted his gorgeous teacher when she told him to pick a strategy that he understood and that “felt” right to him. Still, he could not bring himself to start working again until his teacher put her hand on his shoulder and reminded him that it would be okay if this strategy didn’t work because learning happens when we make mistakes. Little Thomas looked at his list. It seemed that this problem wanted him to compare two different things. He decided to draw a picture of each thing and see how they were different after working through the problem. It took him a long time but…. It worked! He found an answer. He felt very relieved and couldn’t help but picture himself, years from now, graduating from college with a “certified genius” degree. Maybe he would even win the Nobel Prize for his extraordinary work.

little thomas decided not to run through the hallway dancing
Little Thomas decided not to run through the hallway dancing…

but did a little wiggle in his seat to show his excitement. His very perceptive and unusually intelligent teacher saw him and asked if he needed to use the restroom. Red-faced, he answered, “No, but I finished the problem. What should I do now?”

While looking down at his paper, his teacher replied, “Did you finish STEP 4?”

“There’s a STEP 4?” Little Thomas asked.

“Oh yes! It’s actually two steps in one. I call it…”

Apply And Retry

slide15
Click here if you think Little Thomas…

found out he had the wrong answer

Click here if you think Little Thomas…

found out he had the right answer

Little Thomas was not excited about “Apply and Retry.” He thought he was done with the problem. “Why do I need to do this?” He thought to himself. It was as if his teacher had read his mind. She sat down on the corner of his desk, looked into his eyes and said, “I know you are asking yourself why you have to do this.” “Whoa!” Thomas thought to himself, “She’s good.” “Well,” his teacher continued, “This is a double-checking step. It is there to make sure your work is correct and that you truly get the right answer or answers. It is the most important step because it will let you know how well you did. Good scientists, mathematicians and students use this step.” Little Thomas was still not excited about the idea of more work but he trusted his insightful teacher and really did want to be the best student he can be. He reread the problem and couldn’t tell if his answer was right or not. So, he decided to rework the problem using a different strategy. When he finished he found out that…

little thomas did have the right answer
Little Thomas did have the right answer…

Going back through the problem just to find that out felt really great. He understood why his fantastic teacher had told him to do it. It was like patting yourself on the back.

Thomas felt like his heart was racing. He couldn’t stop smiling. This was going to be the best year ever! Without warning he…

What do you think he did?

the end

THE END

(Rightmouse click and end slideshow here)

Little Thomas and his work.

oops running away from a problem never works
OOPS! Running away from a problem never works…

Thomas’s tantrum landed him directly into the principal’s office. His parents were called and he was grounded for sixteen years. He wasn’t allowed to watch television, play video games or have friends over. All he had was a word problem book to keep him company! By the time he was off grounding, he had a full beard and could only mutter one phrase, “Me like word problems.” He was taken directly to a mental institution.

Click here to help Thomas make the better choice.

oops never give up never surrender
OOPS! Never give up! Never Surrender!...

Thomas ran directly into the school guidance counselor who reported to Thomas’s parents and the principal about how stressed he is. They decide to put Thomas back into 2nd grade where he stays forever. He is now the tallest boy in the grade, has a 6ft beard and drives himself to school. But, his mommy still packs his lunch and he has been stuck with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the last sixteen years. Nobody will trade lunches with poor Thomas or play basketball with him during recess because he is almost as tall as the hoop.

Click here to help Thomas make the better choice.

oops be careful what you say or don t say
OOPS! Be careful what you say…or don’t say!

Thomas accidentally ran into the slightly deaf lunch lady. All she heard was him yelling and babbling about choices. Fed up with children who didn’t appreciate her work, she marched into the principal’s office and quit. Without a lunch lady, the cafeteria could not function. The children were forced to eat sloppy joes every day for the next sixteen years because it was the only meal the principal knew how to cook. All the teachers and students hated sloppy joes and blamed Thomas for having to eat them all the time. Poor Thomas!

Click here to help Thomas make the better choice.

oops never underestimate the importance of dance lessons
OOPS! Never underestimate the importance of dance lessons!

Thomas was dancing all the way down the hall or at least he thought he was. Everyone else saw Thomas jerking himself back and forth and using strange and spastic motions. They thought something was wrong and ran to get the school nurse. It was the nurse’s first day of work and when she saw Thomas she wasn’t sure what to do. She immediately called an ambulance and stuck Thomas with needles full of tranquilizers to calm him down. The ambulance crew came to pick him up and stuck him with even more needles to find out what was wrong. By the end of the day he had sixteen needle holes in him and was forced to stay in the hospital. Worse yet, the hospital was serving sloppy joes for dinner. Luckily his caring teacher showed up and gave him lots of homework to keep his mind off of all he had been through.

Click here to help Thomas make the better choice.

oh so you don t think little thomas can do it
Oh! So you don’t think Little Thomas can do it…

Well as it turns out, he did get the answer wrong. He didn’t want to give up but he was losing hope. He just didn’t know what to do next.

Can you figure out what Little Thomas should do next?

Click here to find out what Little Thomas should do.

slide24
Most times, math problems have a question at the end.

That will help you identify the problem and find out what

you are supposed to do.

For example: By the time Thomas finishes two word problems, Jennifer has finished five.

If Thomas has finished ten word problems, how many has Jennifer finished?

Do you see the question?

How does it help you identify (figure out or find) the problem?

What are they asking you to find out?

They want you to compare Jennifer and Thomas to find out how many problems Jennifer has completed.

Click here to see a different type of problem

slide25
Sometimes there won’t be question at the

end but the problem will command you do

something.

For example: Ronnie, Gray and Thomas are standing in a line.

Find all the different ways you could arrange them.

What are they asking you to find out?

They want you to find all the different orders they could be in.

Make sure you take time to understand all the vocabulary words in the problem before you begin!!!!!!!!

Click here to return to Little Thomas’s Adventure

slide26
Strategies are “ways” to solve the problem.

You will need practice to decide which one is best.

There are many ways different strategies. You can

Click here to see examples of each…

Click here to return to Little Thomas’s Adventure

slide27
Now you put one or more of your strategies to work by using them to solve the problem.

Some strategies work better for certain problems.

What might be the best strategy to use for this problem?

By the time Thomas finishes two word problems, Jennifer has finished five. If Thomas has finished ten word problems, how many has Jennifer finished?

Drawing a picture would work but making a table is best!!!

What might be the best strategy to use for this problem?

Ronnie, Gray and Thomas are standing in a line.

Find all the different ways you could arrange them.

Click here to return to Little Thomas’s Adventure

slide28
AAAAHHH double checking! Most students hate this step so don’t worry if you do to. Most teachers love this step and will tell you over and over to do it. Why?

Well…let’s say you solved this problem on your math test and got an answer of ten. You were happy to be done and turned your test in without the Apply and Retry step. Do you know what might happen? It would be wrong and your grade would not be very good.

Read the problem again. Can you tell why an answer of ten would be wrong?

By the time Thomas finishes two word problems, Jennifer has finished five. If Thomas has finished ten word problems, how many has Jennifer finished?

Because Thomas finished ten and Jennifer always does more than Thomas.

You can fix most of your mistakes by double checking like this. That could lead to better grades, cooler careers, more money and yes, even the Nobel Prize.

Remember you will and should make mistakes while solving problems. That is how you learn. It’s what you do once you figure out that you have made the mistake that determines how successful you are!

So take time to apply and your answer does not make sense, pick a new strategy and retry.

Click here to return to Little Thomas’s Adventure

slide29

1. Identify The Problem.

2. List The Possibilities

3. Put It To Work

4. Apply And Retry

Do you remember what each means?

Look at the word problem below. Explain how to use each step to help solve it?

Thomas is 16 years old. Jennifer is 60 years older than Thomas. Thomas is six years younger than Gray. What is the difference in age between Jennifer and Gray?

Click here to return to Little Thomas’s Adventure

slide30
Science Problem Solving has its own name. It is called The Scientific Method.

It still starts with #1 Identifying a Problem but the problem is not given to you.

You are supposed to decide which problem you wish to study by observing the world and asking questions about how and why things occur. It helps to be curious.

Click here to see an example

slide31
Here’s an example of Identifying the Problem using the scientific method.

Little Thomas was making paper airplanes during class because he did not want to continue his problem solving work. He noticed that some airplanes went a lot further than others. He was curious and wondered why certain planes didn’t go as far as others.

Can you identify the problem?

Thomas doesn’t understand why some paper airplanes fly further than others. He will need to figure out why.

Click here to return to Little Thomas’s Adventure

slide32
Science Problem Solving has its own name. It is called The Scientific Method.

You will still need to #2 List the Possibilities but instead of listing ways to solve the problem, you will list hypothesis (guesses or predictions) about why the problem occurs.

Click here to see an example

slide33
Here’s an example of Listing the Possibilities using the scientific method.

Thomas wondered why certain airplanes went further than others. He stopped to think about why. Then an idea came to him. It was probably the way he made the airplane. Then he thought some more. Maybe it was the type of paper he made it with. Maybe it was how hard he threw it or maybe it was what direction he threw it.

Can you list the hypothesis Thomas came up with?

Click here to return to Little Thomas’s Adventure

slide34
Science Problem Solving has its own name. It is called The Scientific Method.

It still has a #3 Put it to Work step. For this step you pick the hypothesis that seems the most logical from your list. Then you begin an experiment that tests your hypothesis (prediction). You will need to take notes and collect data (information) during this step. Later, the data you collect will help you figure out whether you were right or not and if your experiment worked.

Click here to see an example

slide35
Here’s an example of Putting it to Work using the scientific method.

Little Thomas looked at his list. He knew is could be anyone of those things that caused airplane to go further sometimes but he really felt it had something to do with the type of paper it was made from. He decided to do an experiment to see if different types of paper changed how far the airplane went.

What kind of experiment can he do?

He could compare airplanes made from different types of paper and measure the distance.

Click here to return to Little Thomas’s Adventure

slide36
Science Problem Solving has its own name. It is called The Scientific Method.

It still has a #4 Apply and Retry step. During this step, you look at the data (information) you collected from your experiment and see if it supports your hypothesis, proves you wrong or doesn’t help you either way.

Remember you will and should make mistakes while solving problems. That is how you learn. It’s what you do once you figure out that you have made the mistake that determines how successful you are! So check your data closely and if it doesn’t seem right after you have applied it. You should retry it.

Click here to see an example

after completing the experiment twice these were the results
After completing the experiment twice these were the results…

Good scientists do the same experiment more then once to see if their conclusions (results) are accurate (true). The results should be the same or about the same each time you complete the experiment.

Look at Thomas’s data. Is the data close enough to reach a conclusion? What do you think of Thomas’s hypothesis? Does the type of paper affect the distance?

Did it apply or should he retry?

Click here to return to Little Thomas’s Adventure

slide38

1. Identify The Problem.

2. List The Possibilities

3. Put It To Work

4. Apply And Retry

Do you remember what each means?

Look at the situation below. Explain how to use each step to help solve the problem?

Thomas notices that some of the tomato plants he planted are growing faster than others. He wonders why. He will need many tomatoes to make the sloppy joe sandwiches he loves to eat so much!

Click here to return to Little Thomas’s Adventure

Click here to watch a brief movie about the Scientific Method