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lauren65 07-12-2012 06:44 PM

HI All,
I am trying to determine the major reactions that students have when they are faced with math problems that they do not know how to solve. I know that there is the "I cant do it" type that doesn't even try, the type that gets angry, etc. What are the types of students that you find in your math classrooms?

trishg1 07-13-2012 04:29 AM

Here's how I combat "I can't" with anything (this came from a mission trip). One of my girls was convinced she couldn't help with gutting houses. The problem was that her mask was too tight. After we fixed her mask, she worked like a fiend.

Can't is not a noun. The complete phrase is "I can't do it." Let's figure out what it is. This is naming it. Second, own it. IT is something that needs to be overcome. IT is a problem. So now that you own it, fix IT. And once you fix it, you can do it. That became a mantra on that trip; Name it, own it, fix it, do it.

How do you apply this to math problem solving? Make them look at the problem. Without using "I can't" identify the part you don't understand. Name it. Now that it is named, there is a solution. Always. Can't has no solution-ever. But a named problem always has a problem.

I teach 6th, and usually only have 1 or 2 that like math. Last year they all hated math. It makes no sense to them. There is no reason for it. They don't think that they are math minded, and I try to point out little things that they do that show me that they really are math minded (the ones who are)

For my students, it is usually understanding which operation to use. I will have them make a cheat sheet to keep in their math binders for this.

Fractions is also a problem. I use flowcharts with yes-no questions to guide them through processes of simplifying and add/subtract. They also create them and put them in their binders.

Megteach 07-19-2012 02:47 PM

I like
the previous posters mantra of having the student identify what they "CAN'T" do. Too frequently students just don't know where to start--even though the steps of the process have been taught to them.

I have taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades. I always emphasize reading a word problem to find the question--what does the problem want me to do. I have gone over all the clue words for which mathematical process to use. I even give them cheat sheets with all the words on it.

Often I have them try to explain their thinking of what can possibly be done. Through the talking it out, and some one-on-one attention, they are better able to grasp an understanding. I feel that students don't feel confident about the Math, even when they CAN talk their way through it.

Dr Seuss fan 07-25-2012 02:12 PM

identify with them
Because I was the kid who sat and cried beause I didn't understand a problem, I always start the year telling my story. Then, I reiterate it through the year with understanding why they don't like math, that it is hard for some, etc. Then, when I tell them they can do something or something is easy, most believe me because they know I have figured out a way to do that kind of problem.

My math scores are usually the same OR BETTER than the "math people" teachers in my grade level.

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