Bar Diagramming to Solve Word Problems: Great Strategy to Teach in Guided Math Groups

Posted on March 18, 2011. Filed under: Common Math Errors, Differentiated Instruction, During the Guided Math Lesson, Graphic Organizers, Guided math, Math is a Language, Mathematical Proficiency | Tags: , , , , , , , |


Randy Charles wrote a must read monograph on word problems.   In this article he talks about the two main ways that teachers teach words problems: 1) key word approach 2) Polya’s problem solving phases.  He reiterates that research says don’t use the keyword approach!  He also makes a good point about Polya’s phases as being a framework, not a step by step guide to solving problems.  He goes on to talk about how bar diagramming is a visual approach that provides many possibilities for students to approach word problems.  He then gives several examples.  READ THE ARTICLE IT COULD CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT WORD PROBLEMS! Let me know what you think!

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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One Response to “Bar Diagramming to Solve Word Problems: Great Strategy to Teach in Guided Math Groups”

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Hi Dr.Nicki,

The article by Randy Charles offers several explanations why students do not have flexibilty with numbers and why they place so much emphasis on “just show me how to do it.” In the next few weeks, my school district is researching and listening to presentations from various companies so we can decide on a new K-5 math program One of the programs is based upon the Singapore math method for instruction. Bar diagramming is an integral part when teaching the lessons. I’m not a fan of one program, but representing number relationships by drawing helps with understanding. The decision will be a collaboration with the math supervisor, math coaches, and teachers. Any tips on what to look for or what to avoid??
The resource material is encouraging – I didn’s know MathConnects had a PD article on bar diagramming. Thanks again.


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