Think about this… If you had the choice, and the time, to read any book of your choosing would it be one you were truly interested in or one that you had no feeling for? most of us would choose the one we would appreciate and relate to from prior experiences. By now you are probably asking yourself, “Where are you going with this?” This is simple… when we read we are more likely to construct a better meaning of the text if we have a general knowledge or interest.
Now for a twist… I am NOT just talking about books. This same reasoning can be applied to word problems. If you can connect your students to problems they are solving it will draw them in.
How can you do this? The easiest is simply changing the names within word problems to those that are in your class and/or currently common names. Historically famous people and characters from movies/cartoons work a well.
Another way would be to actually match the subject matter that your students enjoy. If your boys are sports fans, give them some baseball and football. If your girls enjoy fashion then involve shopping.
Do you have to do this for every word problem? NO! Can you? YES! Should you? That is all dependent on the type of activity as students should scaffold as they build their conceptual knowledge to where they can use word problems that aren’t necessarily of interest based on the fact hat they now understand the concept they are working on.
In my classroom this was part of my driving force behind creating Solve and Snips. Not only did I want something interactive but I also wanted to be able to make word problems current and therefore interesting. Doing this has helped my reluctant learners (and many others) actually interested in what they were learning and therefore build connections to the math at hand.
So, my question to you is this, how can you change what you are doing in your classroom to help build those connections with your students? Or what are you doing that has helped build the relationship with your students in word problems?
Now, I want you to POST your answer to PROVE IT!