Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Story Problems

I had previously posted about how I made story problem books for my students to use each month.  We have just finished my penguin ones last week and have since started the February ones.  I am pleasantly surprised at how well my kids are doing with them!  I actually just praised them the other day for this.  When they first started with me (remember, we group for math...) they thought they could just answer anything they wanted-but had NO idea about HOW they knew the answers.  They would look at me like a deer in headlights.  To them, I was just plain crazy because they just KNEW the answer---my brain told me! 

So....  I thought I would have a few word problems a day for the students to solve.  They would work independently, with partners, in groups, etc.... BUT... only a few were benefiting.  I still had some that would not take the risk to tell me HOW and WHY they were doing things!  Along came Grinch Day, and I found some great Grinch word problems.  I decided that I would turn them into a booklet where they would have to explain reasons, and after trying to figure out the easiest way to do that, I thought about our "First, Next, Then, Last" worksheets we would use all the time in Language Arts-and my light bulb went off!  I had them complete this with partners, since the day was more "fun" than actual instruction.  (However---little did they know-they WERE learning!)  Afterwards, the kids were smiling and I asked them if they liked that booklet-to which they actually replied that they WANTED more!

Here we are-1 full month into it, and they are actually doing well.  At first, it was a little difficult for them to actually think about 4 steps they took to solve things.  (And actually, I have had a few teachers have a difficult time breaking some down into 4 steps.)  What I tell them is that sometimes we may not have 4 steps, but our first step could always be what our brain is telling us to do (add, subtract, etc...) and WHY...  it may sound like this:  First, I knew I needed to add because it had the words "how many in all."  Of course, sometimes there may be 5 steps, so I tell them to combine on one or 2.  It isn't a perfect solution, but it has gotten them to break down their thinking and to REALLY understand why we do things in math!

I have created March story problems already, but have started to think ahead to April where I may rearrange the page a little---giving them less space to show work and more to write and possibly taking away the scaffold a little bit and NOT having the First, Next, Then and Last...  BUT, I may just wait till May for that (or I'll just make it both ways).  

I thought I would give you a small sample of the booklets I've made.  I included 2 from February and 2 from March.  You can access them here

Let me know how they have worked for you!  If you liked them you can find the full sets here for February and for March.


  1. Thanks for the freebies! I printed them and I am going to try them with my kids!!! You are awesome for sharing!
    Amy Burton

  2. love the blog and all your ideas. I am adding you to my google reader so I don't miss anything. Have checked out your TpT store and have things in my wishlist!!


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