TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS FREEBIE COMING UP! KEEP READING! (How’s that for a shameless plug?) Plus, there are photos of my cats coming up, so that is a reason to continue reading!
Math story problems…word problems…whatever you want to call them, they were the bane of my childhood school years. I was never that confident with math and would just get a math skill mastered when suddenly there were words with the numbers, which in my young mind, just confused everything! Consequently, while working with my gifted students for the last four years of my teaching career, I made it a point to focus on word problems to help them build both problem solving and reading comprehension skills. In one of my recent blogs on Math and Growth Mindset, I discussed using math challenges such as Math Olympiad, Continental Math League, Exemplars and the Noetic Learning Math Contest, all of which contain excellent math word problems. I learned how important it is to teach problem-solving strategies, and also to honor unique and unusual methods that students will come up with!
However, I had never thought of having my students WRITE word problems, but this idea dawned on me because of dice…yes, that is correct, DICE! During this last year of tutoring, I had used something I found on Pinterest, a “Roll a Story” with my 6th-grade student who was working on writing. A roll-a-story is a table that has different options for whatever the die lands on. Here is an example of one on Teachers Pay Teachers, created by Ms.JordanReads – and check out her blog for more information on this resource and other fun dice activities!
So, I was working a quite a bit with my third-grade student, Brayden, on word problems. He was great at math; he knew his computation skills and caught on quickly to new concepts. But something happened when he was given a word problem…he really just glanced at the numbers and then either added, multiplied, or whatever, to find the answer. He wasn’t reading the problem carefully to find out what the problem was asking him to find. So I had him using several strategies to help with this, including reading the problem at least two times (if not more) and highlighting and/or underlining important words, phrases, and numbers. I always made him answer the question, “What is this problem asking you to do and find out?”
After using the roll-a-story for writing with the other student, I hit upon the idea of having Brayden help me create a MATH WORD PROBLEM Roll-a-Story as he actually loves to write (whoo hoo, we need more third grade boys who love to write!). I first created a blank template, filled with a few ideas, and then had Brayden give me suggestions for the rest. (At the bottom of this blog you will find a link to these FREE resources on Teachers Pay Teachers!)
I then had Brayden roll his die, and he came up with: cowboy for the character, in a magic forest for the setting, getting the wrong homework for the problem in the story and multiplication for the math skill. He launched right into his story, which turned out to be quite the fantasy! I am waiting for Spielberg to option the film rights. You can read his story HERE!
Brayden and I thought this was so much fun we wanted to share it with other teachers everywhere, and I decided this would be my very first product on Teachers Pay Teachers! I have even included a blank one, as well as a link to the editable versions in Google Drive (which I prefer!). Teachers of intermediate and secondary students can use this by changing the operations to things like fractions, ratios, percent, algebraic equations, etc. If you try this with your students, please post some feedback for us!
Okay, click HERE for your TpT freebie of this Math Roll-a-Story Word Problem!
P.S. At another tutoring session, I used a word problem from THIS resource and modified it to be about Ms. Crazy Cat Lady (who may or may not be me). I included photos of my current and past cats. Brayden integrated this into another Roll-a-Story word problem and made it be the “homework” the dogs were not expecting. I had him work the problem and then explain in a short constructed response how he solved it! Check it out HERE!
That’s it for now…have fun dice rolling and creating math word problems!