Friday, September 16, 2016

Solving Word Problems

Mirror, Mirroring, Modern, Architecture
I work with students who are classified as English Language Learners.  I am always looking for ways to increase literacy in the language of mathematics so my students are able to explain their thinking.

For word problems, I love using K-F-C-W or Kentucky Fried Chicken Wings for any problems.  K is "What do I know or What did they tell me?"  F stands for Find or "What is it I'm trying to find?"  C is simply "What do I have to consider or think about to answer the question?"  W is the work.

 Before I  started this process, I relied on identifying the key words but that didn't always work especially if the word might mean one of two operations depending on the context.  This process makes them slow down and analyze the problem.  They have to write down the information so they have a starting point.

Then they have to identify what they have to find.  This means they know where they are going with the process.  They have the start and finish but they don't have the method of getting there yet. That comes from the consider.  They have to think about the operation needed, or do they need a couple different formulas.    This is the part where they plan how to do it. 

The final section is to do the actual work.  I learned about this through one of the books I read.  It is a variation of the K-W-L that works for math.  I love it because it requires the students to read the problem, determine the method of solving and finding the answer.

When I first introduced this, I talk about the process is like planning a trip. The know being the starting point, the find the ending point, the consider as the road map between the two places, and the work as the actual trip itself.  They can related to that especially as they often travel by snow machine and need to plan.

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this method.  Have a great weekend.