As we all know, math word problems are one of the hardest things to tackle. We have all struggled with how long it will a train to travel across the country at a certain speed or if Alice has five apples and gives two away, just how many apples will Alice have left. However, the math problems have certainly increased in rigor and length. Even my highest math students have had to grapple and show perseverance to come up with an sensible answer for many of the word problems I present to them.
My main focus with math and writing this year is for the students to determine what is important in the math problem and to identify the various steps that are needed to solve the multi-step problems. My expectation is that the students will write the steps taken, to justify their answers and to also support the validity of their answers. For many of my students it is very hard for them to do these three things. I have several students that are so lucky to have the answer "pop in to their heads." It is my hope that by expecting them to slow down and detail the steps they take and also justify and convince me that their answer is reasonable, that we can bridge persuasion and math. I am also hoping that by the end of the year I can find a way to have the students write a persuasive piece justifying an answer to a complicated word problem. Anyone have any ideas to share ??