During the Independent Practice portion of the lesson, the students will have received teacher-directed instruction and will have had opportunities to experiment with their own problems. The independent practice is where the students will have their chance to shine and to show how much they have learned and accomplished. Students will now begin to generate their own problems and thus, become the teacher.
To write their own word problems, students will choose a series of equations to include in their problems. They must first pick a basic problem (such as: 2 + 3 = 5), then create the inverse equation (such as: 5 - 3 = 2). The teacher must also demonstrate and make sure the students are aware of this principle with lager numbers. The reasoning behind this is so that the understanding that certain facts are connected to each other. Many students know 1 + 1 = 2, as well as 2 - 1 = 1, but the goal is for them to look at those problems as a whole and see how they are connected. They must be able to see that if they have 1 toy and then are given another toy, they then have 2 toys, but if one of those is taken away, they then have only 1 toy once again.
After the students create two basic equations that are connected, they can then write the first set of problems. They must use correct wording in their question that indicate which operation to utilize, as well as include the necessary information needed to solve the problem. They can then fill out the Step Chart (see example in Appendix H) to recheck their own problem and also to use as an answer key when other students solve.
Once students become fluent in converting basic one-step equations into word problems and explaining their actions, they will then be ready to create word problems with multiple steps. They must then take a one-step equation and make it multi-stepped. This may mean that a word problem requires the reader to use a multiplication equation and then add (2 x 3 = 6, 6 + 4 = 10), or a subtraction equation that then must be divided (10 - 4 = 6, 6 / 3 = 2). While students are doing this they must also remember that the inverse problem must be created so that they can continue to make the connection about their relationships.