When I began teaching Middle School math, I became apparently aware that my students detested working with word problems. It didn’t matter if I worked them with them, I asked them to show their strategies, or even let them work with partners or in groups… they HATED them. But I didn’t know why.
I had to think about… my students who had been sitting in similar math classes for the last five to six years, being presented with word problems (aligned to the state testing guidelines for sure) and they were being asked to read them and solve them time and time again. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t exciting…. in fact it was down-right boring. I knew I had to do something and FAST or I was going to continue to fight this battle time and time again. Because of this, Solve and Snips were born.
What are Solve and Snips?
Plain and simple, a Solve and Snip is a self-checking set of 10 word problems on one sheet of paper (front and back) that students will complete and find the answer for from a provided answer bank. There are no “trick questions”, there are no extra answers… just plain ol’ good problem-solving. Yep, that’s it.
So What Makes a Solve and Snip Different than a Worksheet?
A Solve and Snip appeals to the puzzle side of a child. The answers are a mystery and they only fit in one place throughout the assignment and it is their job to figure it out.
How Else Can I Use Them?
Over the years I have worked with students and teachers worldwide and we have some different ways of using them that will definitely appeal to you.
- Are you running out of copy count so there is no way that you could make enough for a full class much less a full day of classes? Add a Solve and Snip to your Math Workshop rotation. Simply copy enough of them that will work for the largest group that you have (I suggest groups no larger than 4-6 students) and then either laminate them and provide a wet-erase marker or stick them in a document holder and provide dry erase markers. You won’t have the “snip” part anymore but you will have active learners because it is something different.
- Need a twist on the first option with a 1 to 1 correspondence of answers? Grab those laminated Solve and Snips, laminate the answer sheets as well and attach Velcro dots on the back of each answer and in the answer spot on the front and back of the Solve and Snip. You could also attach them inside a file folder for a quick and easy folder game during intervention time.
- Are your students ready for a challenge? Provide the Solve and Snip as is but only give the students half of the answers. And better yet, give different halves of the answers throughout the classroom. This will not only keep them motivated to complete the puzzle but it will definitely have them check their work.
- Want to make it a game? How about a relay for the classroom… Divide the class into 4 teams of students. Display the problem on your board (under a document camera works well) for all students to see. The teams work together on a dry erase board to completely work through their problem and get the correct answer. The first team with ALL THEIR WORK and correct answer wins a point. After the ten questions are complete (or you could even use multiple Solve and Snips problems during a review) wins the game.
- Looking for another way to make it a game? Divide the class into two to four teams. For this, you have to copy the Solve and Snip one-sided (per team) and provide the answers as well. Pre-cut apart the Solve and Snip into ten separate questions and the ten answers as well. Lay out the Solve and Snip questions and the answers on the table at the front of the room (you will need two sets- one per team). Say GO and your first student will run up, read problem number 1, and work out the problem. Once they have solved the problem they should find the answer and attach it to the problem and submit to you to be checked. If they are stumped or they answer the question incorrectly they can “Phone a Friend“. Each team is allowed 3 times during the game to “Phone a Friend” and have another member of their team come up and help them solve the problem correctly. They cannot use more than one “Phone a Friend” per turn. The first team to correctly solve their problem, showing all their work gets a point and both players go back to the line.
While I can think of SO MANY other ways to use Solve and Snips in your classroom, and for homework of course, I hope these 5 new and different ideas will help spark some fun in your classroom!