# The Craft of Word Problems

## Word Problems Dealing with Ratio and Proportion

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## Necessary Tools

Notebook - Every student is required to have a notebook just for math. It can be of any type, although I personally prefer a spiral bound quadrille notebook. (It helps students with a sloppy handwriting, especially if they will be copying and working on word problems.) Much of the math done in middle school will require graphing and it is more helpful to have a quadrille notebook as opposed to having to handout pieces of graph paper. Another important aspect of middle school math is that the student will be required to solve multi-step equations, fractions, and ratios. All look much neater when compartmentalized by a quadrille notebook. Also, the notebook can be usable as a log book which can be used to record strategies employed, reflections and the like. Lastly, a quadrille notebook helps students separate distinct parts of multi-step problems which will facilitate clarity of thinking by drawing lines to separate each step of an equation or problem.

Pencils - Many times, I find that my students vest themselves so much in having found an answer that they are reluctant to change it, even when it is wrong. I believe that every student needs to write with pencils in math, because it affords the student the opportunity to erase mistakes without feeling so tied to the answer on the page. When a student can erase his mistakes, it allows the student sufficient flexibility to change errors, and experiment with alternatives.

Erasers - Generally, the erasers on pencils are crumbly and of a very poor quality, it therefore behooves the teacher to either give the students a good quality eraser or ask the students to purchase an eraser. (White gum erasers work best because they limit pencil and pink eraser streaks.) Also, a big eraser affords the student the occasion to erase large segments of work.

Highlighters or Markers - I, along with many math teachers, like my students to show their work. Therefore, on a page there is usually a whole clutter of numbers and symbols, stray pencil marks, erasures, and ghost images where students have erased. Often, while attempting to look at a student’s work, it is extremely difficult to follow a student’s chain of thought because of the haphazard use of the page. In such cases it is always helpful to both the student and the teacher for the student to highlight the problem in one color and the answer in another.