One thing kids struggle with over the years is solving word problems. Well, let me rephrase that. They are not so good at explaining why they do things when they solve problems. It's quite difficult to tell whether they took a guess, copied their neighbor, or did it on their own. We've done everything from exemplars to group work to the kids being teachers. This year I came up with a new idea. I would have a story problem packet for them to work on for the months. This would help me achieve that goal because I would only be
So, I thought about how to go about this. The most important things with first graders (primary kiddos really) is that there needs to be space for pictures/work and a place for an answer. Those were obvious. That didn't get me to know what was going on in their head. Then, one day I had one of those "aha" moments-but it was during reading. We've been using the terms: "First, Next, Then, Last" to retell stories and to write stories and the kids have been doing fabulous with it. What if I add it to the page for them to solve it. Then there is a template that they are used to, that they just need to fill in a few details that tell me whether or not they KNOW what they are doing!
I tested this during December with a Grinch Day word problem book that I created. We did a few together and then I had them working with a partner to finish. It worked! AND the best part is that my students were asking for MORE! :) I have now created a booklet for January with a Penguin theme and have already finished February with a "love" or Valentine's Day theme.
Now our routine is that when my kids come in for math (remember, we group our kids...) they pull out their booklet and start. I should also add that I have them fairly trained on how to "attack" a word problem as well. They first read it. Then they search for those Key Words that tell them that they will be adding or subtracting and circle it. Then they will underline any numbers or important information that they need to know (we're still working on that..... it's just not as easy as looking at our chart we made to tell us whether we need to add or subtract.)