Make Math Moments Academy › Forums › MiniCourse Reflections › 5 Reasons Students Hate Word Problems – Discussion › Reason #1: Starting Without Context

Reason #1: Starting Without Context
Posted by Jon on July 10, 2021 at 7:36 amWhat was your big take away from this particular lesson?
What is something you are still wondering?
Share your thinking below.
Francie Robertson replied 2 months, 2 weeks ago 6 Members · 7 Replies 
7 Replies

I love the idea of not giving to much information to students and getting them to notice and wonder so they can decide on a solution pathway instead of being told or outright asking for the way to solve a problem. I find many of my students give up on the logic problems that I give in class. I also find that after a while they do begin to dive into their tool bags to see if they can use something from their past experiences to help them solve the problem in front of them. My wondering is how do you do this for concepts that they have never seen before? For example, part of our curriculum has to do with teaching the pythagorean theorem. Without learning this, how do you just throw a problem at them that would normally use the pythagorean theorem to solve it? I don’t want to be the “sage on the stage” but when is the right time to give a problem to kids that you know requires more mathematical understanding then they currently have?

Good wonder here @robinbergen . We’ll want to carefully select tasks that use prior knowledge that allow their strategies to bump into new learning/strategies. In your example of the pythagorean theorem have a look at Squares To Triangles 4 day unit. https://learn.makemathmoments.com/task/squarestriangles/


I like the idea of being able to let the students ‘do’ all the steps you mentioned. If we as teachers list them out.. then they are not ‘doing’ the thinking about the topic, but instead, they are just waiting for you or that ‘one student who always answers’ to do so. I wonder how long will it take for all my students to get here? Should I be expecting a few months before I can get the majority of the students involved?

I love the idea of having the students start with something that they can relate to. I am going to pull up the electronic version of my textbook right now and see if I can find a problem that I could start working with in the next topic I am going to cover. The students do already have a lot of prior knowledge and the skill is just the next step.

Love the action you’re taking! Did you sign up for our webinar this week? We’re teaching how to transform your textbook! https://makemathmoments.com/transform/


I think my big take away is the need to build anticipation and curiosity. I understand the need for numberless word problems, but I am still wondering how to get there and how to make it apply to whatever topic I am on.

I really support and LOVE the Curiosity Path and agree with it. The most engagement I see is when I withhold information. The least amount engagement is when I give them a workbook page with a bunch of word problems.
I am going to share one “wonder” that I have. As I was listening, I was thinking how this will apply to standardized testing. If we, as teachers, always adjust or look for ways to modify word problems, do you feel this would cause challenges with standardized testing (as word problems on there are HUGE blocks of writing?) **Please note..I am not a huge fan of State standardized testing, but I know I need to help prepare them to take that test as well. (Our state test is also tied to my evaluation..so I do care a little bit!**)