I am a high school math teacher and a recent graduate of SUNY Oneonta, where I dual majored in Mathematics and Adolescent Education. I currently teach 4 sections of Common Core Geometry at Calhoun High School in Merrick, NY. I coach the Girls Varsity Volleyball team at John F. Kennedy High School and I am also a head coach of two travel volleyball teams at Sportime.
The purpose of this topic is for participants to learn various strategies in order to help their students solve word problems in mathematics.
Learners will be able to:
- Identify challenges and/or misconceptions that students may face when solving a word problem
- Identify useful and assistive strategies to help students solve mathematical word problems
- Create a schema to help students solve word problems
- Apply the skills when modeling the problem solving process
- Integrate the usage of these strategies in classroom practices
1. Instructional problem:
Curriculum changes and the demands for more real-world application of mathematics creates a challenge for participants with regards to teaching mathematical word problems. The need for strategies on how to teach these types of problems is crucial to the changing education of mathematics.
2. The nature of what is to be learned:
Participants will learn strategies on how to effectively teach mathematical word problems in their classrooms.
3. About the learners:
Mini-course participants are K-12 certified math teachers. Some of these participants may be experienced mathematics educators and some may be going into their first year of teaching. The participants come from diverse backgrounds and experiences and teach at various different school districts. The engaged participants are both intrinsically and externally motivated to helping their students better solve mathematical word problems.
4. Instructional content:
Each unit will cover a different strategy that can be used in the participants' classroom. The unit are designed to be engaging and learner-cetntered. Units will begin with an overview of the strategy that will be discussed, as well as target learning outcomes that will be met by the end of the unit. An essential part of each unit will be discussing scientific research based articles. Participants will be required to discuss ideals, concepts, practices, and strategies that they gained from the readings. Upon completion of the units, participants will examine which strategy they like and try at least one of these practices in their own classrooms. They will then have the opportunity to discuss with their peers about the experience and reflect upon the success of the strategy, future uses of it, and improvements that could be made. Upon completion of the course, participants will complete an online questionaire for the purposes of collecting data on the quality and effectiveness of this mini-course in order to make improvements and revisions to the course in the future.
5. Explore instructional problem/solution:
Many students become anxious and approach word problems in a worrisome manner. As teachers, it is our responsibility to make word problems manageable and not as challenging. Without plans and strategies for how to make these word problems more understandable to students, many teachers see the teaching of these problems as difficult and upsetting.
6. Generate goals:
The ultimate goal is for participants to recognize student difficulties when solving mathematical word problems and to provide students with strategies (through modeling, discussions, etc.) to ease the problem solving process.
Upon completion the this course, students will acquire the following skills and knowledge.
- The participants will be able to identify student difficulties when they are solving mathematical word problems.
- The participants will utilize the learned techniques and demonstrate understanding by incorporating at least one learned strategy into a constructed formal lesson plan.
Participants will explore effective strategies that will help their students improve their skills when solving mathematical word problems.
- The participants will demonstrate the use of successful strategies to improve students' performance in solving mathematical word problems.
- The participants will adopt specific strategies to use in their own classrooms that will benefit their students' mathematical word problem solving skills.
Unit-Level Performance Objectives
Unit 1: Understanding of Student Difficulties
- Using previous experiences, the participants will predict various difficulties that students encounter when solving mathematical word problems.
- Using the educational sources provided, the participants will identify more difficulties that were perhaps overlooked.
Unit 2: Determining Strategies
- The participants will analyze different strategies used to help their students improve their mathematical word problem solving skills.
Unit 3: Formal Lesson Plan
- Using information from various educational readings and class discussions, the participants will demonstrate understanding of the learned strategies by developing their own formal lesson plan incorporating at least one of the strategies learned in this mini-course.
- The participants must be mathematics teachers.
- The participants will demonstrate the ability to navigate an online Wiki course.
- The participants will demonstrate understanding by incorporating at least one learned strategy into a constructed formal lesson plan.
- The participants will be intrinsically motivated and open-minded to the usage of new strategies and techniques in their classrooms.
- The participants will have ambition to learn new strategies and implement them as professional educators.
- The participants will have the desire to help their students improve their mathematical word problem solving strategies.
References and Resources
- Larson, M. B. and Lockee, B. B. (2013). Streamlined ID: A Practical Guide to Instructional Design. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Darling-Hammond, L. et al. (2008). Powerful Learning: What We Know About Teaching for Understanding. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R.R. (1999). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.