Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New(er) Word Problem Basket


If you have sharp eyes you might have noticed this "word problems" or "story problems" basket in the background the past few months.  Montessori albums are always sneaking tiny little sentences into various spots in the math albums that some something to the effect of, "Children should be working with story problems/word problems regularly."  I'm always looking for ways to make sure this happens.  During primary I used the story problems from KHT Montessori (there are a bunch in the math support folders).  You can take a look at how I formatted that work in this post.  I also used sets from Montessori for Everyone.  Kal-El had finished all of the collections I had and it was time for something new.


I'm not a fan of workbooks, but I found this series at the teacher supply store and the format was perfect for cutting up and putting on the shelf in a more Montessori way.  Kal-El hadn't really had any exposure to graphing at that point.  I looked through all of the levels and determined that he really should work through the problems starting with level one.  The math skills are far easier than what Kal-El is working on otherwise, but I decided that it would be far more enjoyable for him to work through the problems if he approached the graphing and the new format from a secure place.  So, I decided to buy:

Daily Word Problems, Grade 1 
Math Daily Word Problems, Grade 2





Most of the word problems are half-pages.  I cut all the pages out of the workbook, laminated them (back-to-back to save space), and put them in a basket with a set of overhead markers.  I also made a large tab that reads "finished."  When he is in the mood, Kal-El works through as many word problems as he wishes, records the answer right on the card with the Vis-a-Vis markers, shows me his completed stack, wipes them clean, and then stores the completed cards behind the "finished" tab.  Some of the problems are full pages.  The full-page problems are all in the back of the basket.  He knows every fifth word problem is full page and gets them as needed.  He stores the completed ones under the basket.


Kal-El likes that the story problems are illustrated.  Nobody liked that they ask you to write a "number sentence" instead of just saying "equation" like a regular person.  Kal-El noted that, "People should just call things by their real names."  We also like that each "week" (five problems) focuses on a different animal and the full-page graphing problem for each week includes a section of "zoology facts" (basically traditional Montessori "animal stories") about that animal.  The boys had not been showing much interest in zoology lately and this has cracked that door open again.  

I'm not worried about being stuck in the "first grade" level at this point because Kal-El works through about 20 problems at a time when he is in the mood.  He has only worked with the basket a few times and is more than halfway finished.  As soon as he is finished, I will make a second basket.  Me Too will inherit the "first grade" basket and I will fill the new basket with "second grade" contents for Kal-El.  I predict he will work through that book quickly as well.  He has another Evan-Moor math book that he works in like other people would do crossword puzzles, so we call it his "math puzzle book."  When I bought him that book I noticed that the fourth-grade book most closely matched the kind of math that he is working on in school at home, but he was asking for the book "for fun" so I bought one level back (third grade).  



17 comments:

  1. I hear you on the number sentence thing. Before giving T the CAT6 this year, I had to Google that term. When I figured out it was just a weird way of saying equation, I complained to my husband, "why can't they just call it that? Kids can handle it!"

    This is also a topic that has been in the back of my mind too. I think after we gain some traction I'll go on the search too. Right now we are eyeball-deep in the racks and tubes work. :)

    But for when we get there: why did you have him start with the easy arithmetic problems? Because of he new format? Just before T took his test, we went over some of the problems from Helpful Garden, they are very simple addition and subtraction, and we did them orally. I read them to him and he wrote down his EQUATION and the sum or difference. This was on the CAT test, in that oral format, and he did just fine. I wanted to know why you started here, (was the graphing integrated into the first book?) so I know either to look at this level first when searching for T, or look at a higher level since these problems are so basic. Does that make sense?

    Oh, yeah, I too found, when looking for standardized test prep books that T, a 7yo first grader, performs at a 4th+ grade public school equivalent. I try not to compare, though my brain doesn't always comply. :)

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    1. You should definitely look at them at the store before you buy. I might not have purchased level one if Me Too wasn't going to almost immediately start using it also. We are only doing it because of the graphing. I noticed they used pie graphs, bar graphs, picture graphs, histograms, and tally marks (I don't remember seeing any line graphs). Kal-El wasn't familiar with any of them (although I have materials download but not made for learning them). They also routinely change the orientation of the graphs. He has honestly spent maybe 30 minutes on this so far and has completed more than half the book. Each time he hits a graph he has to bring it to me and learn how to read the new kind though. So, definitely look at them in the store and decide which ones YOU want to do. I tend to err toward pedantic.

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    2. Also, I know you know me well enough to understand my thinking but someone else might not. I wasn't saying Kal-El is "advanced" or anything because he uses the higher levels of math fun books. Montessori just teaches the skills in a different order/way so it is really hard to find that type of material that "matches." I think there is a special math series that does, I'll have to dig around in my pinterest. The problem with matching things up is that the traditional books tend to use small numbers for the early levels and larger numbers as they age but the skills are all over the place. So, the boys think it is silly that the second grade puzzle book only uses numbers from 1-1000. They also think it is silly that the third grade book only uses numbers from 1-10,000 instead of just going all the way to a million. However, they haven't covered the graphing, pattern finding, time equations (they can tell time but not do time math), and money equations.

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    3. It also depends, as you mentioned on your blog, which "brand" you look at. The Evan-Moor seemed more rigorous than a lot of the other brands. I was surprised at how much what one brand calls "first grade basic skills" differs from another and I'm glad we don't generally use this stuff. I am really good at NOT CARING what something is labeled and using it when I want to use it :) Ask Jessica, she probably gets headaches watching how slowly I go through these Montessori albums.

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    4. Oh, and this was the math series I was thinking of: http://montessoritraining.blogspot.com/2011/10/homework-revisited-montessori-upper.html#.UugwUWTnb64

      quote from the blog post: I explained how, in my experience with assisting students in the math curriculum, I had discovered the “Keys to …” series (Keys to Fractions, Keys to Decimals, Keys to Percents, Keys to Algebra, Keys to Measurement, Keys to Geometry) from Key Curriculum Press. They are ideal! It is as if a Montessorian had written workbooks for the Montessori curriculum. These workbooks use Montessori principles and correspond directly with the presentations in Montessori teaching albums. On top of that, they are very inexpensive; much cheaper than buying math texts and workbooks. They even include short pre-tests that can be used to assess what concepts and skills students need to practice and learn, and post tests that can be used to check for mastery.

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    5. Three replies to one comment, well, I feel the beginnings of a math sentence here!

      I actually wasn't thinking of looking through work books, though this is likely where I'd end up, since I am sure you have scoured the universe for other options at this point. I figured I'd end up coming up with some examples from my brain and writing them down, just like I did for all the equation cards, but with or without illustrations, is up for further discussion at the moment.

      It is a good idea to look at the books before you buy them, especially work books! We just got these handwriting books from England, no less, (no shipping was a normal amount somehow), and they are just atrocious. The cursive they teach, isn't cursive in my book. ANYWAY, yes, taste before you buy, or at least look.

      I know you. :) I think a lot of non-Montessorians think that our children are "advanced." Or at least that is what most of my relatives think. I can't help but smile because I know that it is because the real genius is in the Montessori method and by following the sensitive periods of the child, well, the child just learns it all when it is easiest for them to learn it. Maybe if we all just listened to the inner child our traditional school counterparts would follow the same sequence we do. One of the reasons why T likes doing workbooks is because for his grade they are very easy for him. :)

      I mentioned something about brands on the blog? I don't recall. Usually I am just complaining about brands.

      Oh, I really like the way you organized this material. I am just going to have to steal your idea one of these days. :)

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  2. I wondered - do you know of any printables (preferably free!) of word problems anywhere in the web? My older two children both have to take state mandated testing this year, and Hoss doesn't always relish reading - so I figured I should really put extra effort into word problems. I can give them to him orally, in day to day life, but he's not done a whole lot of them on paper. And from what I understand, most of the Math in our state testing is done in that format.

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    1. I don't :( But haven't looked. I do know that you can get a lot of e-books from Scholastic that would work. I buy them during their dollar days sales. Last dollar days sale (each book was $1) I bought a bunch of time and money, graphing, and mapping books that I intend to print, cut up, laminate in a similar fashion. "Command card" style. I printed a time/money one recently but haven't organized it yet.

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    2. I haven't searched for word problems on this site, but TeachersPayTeachers.com has a plethora of printables, some free, and some you need to pay for (none are all that expensive) that were made by teachers. (I just went to the site and they do have a few free printables for various grades, but you need to search, "story problem," not word problem.

      Usually these materials tend to reflect the traditional school-work-sheet mentality with colors, lots of clip art, and the like. But every now and then there is something usable.

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  3. No headaches - I just smile :)

    Actually, I find it riotously funny that every time I schedule a Great Lesson post on Montessori Nuggets, you've done the lesson less than a week before. I swear I schedule mine before yours post, so I am not following up on you! ;)


    These are great word problem resources! I just reviewed them at the school where I'm subbing (they have a few at each level, of the Evan-Moor). I have not yet found a resource I like that I've been able to recommend. I was ready to start writing some of my own to share, but I think I have more pressing materials needs from people ;)

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    1. OH MY! I was thinking, "I have no idea what she's talking about with the Montessori Nuggets post" and Bloglovin' DROPPED you from my subscriptions. AGAIN. Unless it dropped Montessori Nuggets at the same time it dropped Montessori Trails and I didn't resubscribe accidentally. I've resubscribed. If you think of it, please let me know if you post a couple times in a row and don't hear from me. You know I almost always comment on your posts. If I haven't for a while it means something is wrong.

      ANYWAY. From your last paragraph it sounds like you DIDN'T like the Evan Moor story problems when you reviewed them? Was it the less-than perfect match on the skills or did you not like them for other reasons? I'm sure a lot of people who consider buying these after reading my post would love to know.

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    2. Sorry I wasn't clear :) I do like these. I might mix them up for the sake of personal skill levels, but I think the ones I saw had great ideas; well-laid out.

      (can you tell I'm tired?)

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  4. I have just stumbled across your site and can't wait to check out your other posts. I'll be using some of your great ideas with my kids. Thank you.

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    1. I'm SO glad you find it helpful Krystal! Thank you for commenting, I LOVE comments :)

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  5. Just looking through Scholastic - I've found a few good ones, but check this one out for our investigative/let's be challenged boys .....

    http://teacherexpress.scholastic.com/math-practice-puzzles-addition-subtraction#

    I too am looking for story problems and find the usual ones just too boring. This Evan Moore one is too expensive for Australia.

    Also have you looked at Khan Academy? I'm trying to work out it this will be good to bring in.

    Thanks for great ideas - AGAIN!

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  6. I can't find your post where you talk about "Primary Challenge Math" (at least I think I remember that post.... maybe it was Abbie.... :) loosing mind) I was trying to figure out how to organize it for multiple levels of students. If you do indeed have a post on it and I didn't dream that up, could you please post the link? Thank you.

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    1. Abbie has it for the multiple ages - with the sticky-highlighter tags.

      :)

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