Why teach with word problems? When teaching eighth grade Mathematics in the New Haven Public Schools or any school system, some of the issues facing teachers are the daily struggle of getting and keeping the students’ attention and maintaining their interest level. Students’ level of understanding drops significantly when their focus on their schoolwork is lost. By using word problems, a real world or more meaningful purpose can engage the student and make the Math more interesting to them. When designing the problems to use the teacher should try to relate them to current issues in students’ lives. The percentage word problem can present students with a “picture” or real world concept involving mathematics, which can then lead to improving their critical reading skills. The story of the word problem and the student’s prior knowledge often times can be supportive to figuring out the solution.
Current testing has shown that students generally do well in computation, but do poorly on items involving reading a word problem and solving it. The student must learn to translate the verbal into mathematical language using often times a formula or equation. A guided plan for students in order to solve problems is of utmost importance in the teaching of word problems. With repeated practice, students improve when they learn and use the terminology needed to decipher what operation(s) to use when solving. Students need to discover relationships between problems to gain familiarity in solving them. There is a need for this practice to begin more formally in the middle school grades in order to provide the skills necessary for him/her to perform confidently on the CAPT in their tenth grade in high school. Percent problems are widely assessed on the CAPT in performances tasks, circle graphs and statistical analysis. Students also need these skills to provide them with success and therefore, the self-assurance needed to take advanced level Mathematics courses in high school. It is important for our students to take calculus and statistics in high school in order to be able to compete for admission to colleges and in the job market. Research has shown that many of our students do not take advanced placement courses and this puts them behind their peers in other school systems that are doing so. Often, our student population may feel they do not have the ability to succeed in advanced mathematics. Raising their success level may lead to self-confidence in their abilities. Real world problems and multi-tasks involving finding and writing your solution, will allow students to become more comfortable and familiar with the terminology and strategies needed to succeed.
Do the Math 100% provides these opportunities for achievement that encourages students to complete the lessons and increase their capability to solve the percent problems. The activities require students to use critical reading to analyze real world word problems and strategize to find solutions. They also will need to use writing skills in order to justify their answer. This unit provides the children with a strategic plan necessary for them to master in order to become better problem solvers.