“Ohhhhhhhhh! You about to get in trouble!” student one says with an air of anticipation. “Ms. Newton look at what Albert has in his desk” said another in a huff of accusation. I go over to Albert’s desk. He is 3 feet tall. I am 5 feet 3 ½ inches. I look down into his eyes. He looks up into mine. He looks worried. I look inquisitive. I ask, “What’s in there?” Albert, begins to silently, grab handfuls of rocks and put them on the table. This is accompanied by a symphony of “OOOO’s” as he does it. See the stage had been set for just such an occurrence. Rocks had been forbidden to be touched by the school administration. In their abundant wisdom, they had decided to build a fence in the middle of the school year around the perimeter of the school, which of course left hundreds of little rocks and pebbles everywhere, ones that are just the right size for little hands like Albert’s – an inquisitive 1^{st} grader. Then, they made it a cardinal sin to touch them.”
By now the class had gathered around Albert’s desk and they were staring at him, looking at the rocks and turning to me to met out just rewards. I looked down into Albert’s chubby little face, scrubby knees and careful hands, and I asked one fateful question: What if these were magic rocks? Well, the kids looked astonished at the question. They looked at Albert, they raised an eyebrow at me and then they stared at those rocks, wondering, what if? I continued on, “What if they were magic? What then?” Well, no one had anticipated this question and it threw them and the whole expected end into a tailwind. I know, Albert broke the rules. But I figured, he had taken care to collect all those rocks, he had lots of rocks, big and little. He had also taken the care to hide them carefully in his desk. So it seemed to me that they must be special. Who was I to judge? Of course, I reprimanded Albert – I told him that he shouldn’t be doing that, breaking rules and picking up rocks and hiding them. But, since he had, we might as well think about the question. So we wrote essays about those “magic rocks.” We made a “magic rock” museum. We talked about geologists and rockhounders (those who collect rocks like Albert had). We compared them and talked about their similarities and differences. We most certainly counted how many he had collected. We even read “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” for inspiration of course. We learned so much using the rocks as our launchpad. Why I would have never thought of letting them go to waste!
Always find the magic in the day to day of children’s lives.
Dr. Nicki
]]>Numberless word problems
https://bstockus.wordpress.com/numberlesswordproblems/
https://bstockus.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/purposefulnumberlesswordproblems/
3 Read Protocol
http://www.sfusdmath.org/3readprotocol.html
https://earlymath.erikson.edu/exploring3readsmathprotocolwordproblems/
http://www.fosteringmathpractices.com/3reads/
https://www.cuethink.com/cuenotes/threereadsstrategy
3 Act Tasks
https://gfletchy.com/3actlessons/
http://www.sfusdmath.org/3acttasks.html
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jXSt_CoDzyDFeJimZxnhgwOVsWkTQEsfqouLWNNC6Z4/pub?output=html
Estimysteries
https://www.stevewyborney.com/?p=1744
Math Photos
P.S. 2 books to get you started:
Happy Mathing,
Dr. Nicki
]]>1: Students read word problems and solve them on the rekenrek.
2. Students pick an equation and tell a word problem and solve it on the rekenrek.
3. Match the model (premade cards) and the word problem
Here is a link to the video: https://youtu.be/WKtbWHSRo
Happy Mathing,
Dr. Nicki
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It is really important that students act out problems, model them with concrete materials, draw them and make diagrams. We need to help students think about modeling their thinking at all grades (including 4,5,6 etc.). Any unit of study can be approached from a handson, connected to real life, engaging manner. Pape (2004) notes that
If students are encouraged to understand and meaningfully represent mathematical word problems rather than directly translate the elements of the problems into corresponding mathematical operations, they may more successfully solve these problems and better comprehend the mathematical concepts embedded within them.
Students should be encouraged to model their thinking with concrete tools, templates and models. Combined these power tools help to scaffold even the hardest of word problems and make them all doable!
Here are some great virtual tools!
https://www.mathlearningcenter.org/resources/apps
http://www.didax.com/math/virtualmanipulatives.html
http://www.glencoe.com/sites/common_assets/mathematics/ebook_assets/vmf/VMFInterface.html
P.S. See previous posts on toolkits:
https://guidedmath.wordpress.com/tag/mathtoolkits/
https://guidedmath.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/mathtoolkitspart2primarytoolkits/
https://guidedmath.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/mathtoolkitspart1/
Happy Mathing,
Dr. Nicki
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Happy Mathing,
Dr. Nicki
]]>The second kind of problem is a problem where one of the parts is unknown. For example, The toy store had 100 marbles. There were 89 small marbles. The rest of the marbles were large. How many large marbles did they have? Another example, Kelly had $10. She had $5 in her piggy bank and the rest in her bank account. How much does she have in her bank account? In this type of problem, we are given the whole and one of the parts. The task is to figure out the other part.
The third type of problem is a Both Addends Unknown problem. In this type of problem both addends are not known, only the total is given. For example, Jane has 25 cents. Name all the possible coin combinations that she could have. The task is to figure out all of the possible combinations.
Kindergarten students start working with part part whole whole unknown and both addends unknown in many state standards and then by 1st they learn part part whole part unknown. All the other grades work with these problem types, using multidigit numbers, fractions and decimals.
Happy Mathing,
Dr. Nicki
Resources: https://padlet.com/drnicki7/165m3bx7nqvm
Get the book! https://www.routledge.com/MathProblemSolvinginActionGettingStudentstoLoveWordProblems/Newton/p/book/9781138054530
Take the course: Problem Solving in Action k2 https://drnickinewton.thinkific.com/
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In this workstation, the students sort the word problem by category. This station helps students to reason about the type of problem they are solving. It is very important that students understand and can explain the situation. Although they might use an inverse operation or another strategy to solve the problem, they need to understand the problem situation. For example, I might solve repeated addition to solve a multiplication problem but that doesn’t change the problem type. The strategy to solve the problem might have been repeated addition but the problem is a multiplication one.
Examples of sorts:
Join/Take From
Part Part Whole Whole Unknown/Part Part whole Part Unknown
Compare difference/compare bigger part unknown/compare smaller part unknown
Equal Group/Arrays
Number of Groups/ Number in Groups
Example:
Word Problem Sort  
Multiplication  Division 

Happy Mathing,
Dr. Nicki
]]>Graphic organizers can help students to write word problems. Pick a type of word problem type to work on, for example a division equal group problem, depending on the grade. Then on the board, do a group graphic organizer of all the elements of the word problem.
Setting  Group  The thing in each group  What do you know? 
Playground
Classroom Cafeteria Auditorium Bus 
Swings/Slides
Tables Lines Seats 
Students
Teachers

How many groups? Or
How many are in each group? 
Happy Mathing,
Dr. Nicki
]]>Hello! This is Dr. Nicki. I created story strips because so often kindergarten and first grade teachers tell me that their students can’t read the problems! Well, here is one way to get students telling and solving word problems! These are great for students to use as word problem launches. Often times, students have trouble telling stories, but with story strips they can just start telling stories. When they see the strips they intuitively understand what is happening. Here are a few ways to use them.
Whole group: Show a Story Strip and have the students discuss the problem that they could tell. They should think about how to model the problem in different ways.
Guided Math Groups: The teacher models a few with the group. Each student gets their own strip and they tell the story to the group and solve it. They have to prove their thinking in more than one way.
Math Workstations: Teachers can assign a specific set of problems for students to work with or it can be free choice.
***Story strips can be made with pictures, stickers and sketches!
Happy Mathing,
Dr. Nicki
P.S. I have been sharing this with teachers around the country and they and their kids are loving it! Start today!
Stay in touch: https://padlet.com/drnicki7/165m3bx7nqvm (347) 6884927) drnicki7@gmail.com https://www.pinterest.com/drnicki7/wordproblems/
Check out our problems solving courses: https://drnickinewton.thinkific.com/collections
Get the books:
Story Strips
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Compare stories are the most difficult types of stories to tell. There are three types of comparison stories. The first type of comparison story is where two different things are being compared. For example, Lucy had 5 rings and Maria had 7 rings. Who had more? How many more? Or, How many fewer rings does Lucy have than Maria? In a difference problem, when you say fewer, it is considered a more difficult version of the problem. There is another version of the compare the difference problem. For example, Jean has 20 marbles and Mike has 10. How many more marbles does Mike need to have the same amount as Jean?
The second type of comparison story is where the bigger part is unknown. In this type of story, we are looking for the bigger amount. For example, Luke had $57 and Marcos had $19 more than Luke. How much does Marcos have? How much do they have altogether? Another example, Luke had $57. This is $10 less than Marcos. How much does Marcos have? There are two types of this problem. When you say less and you are looking for more, it is considered the harder part because it is counterintuitive. The task is to find the bigger part.
The third type of comparison story is where the smaller part is unknown. In this type of story, we are looking for the smaller amount. For example, Luke had $57 and Marcos had $10 less than Luke. How much does Marcos have? How much do they have altogether? Another example, Luke had $57. This is $10 more than Marcos. How much does Marcos have? There are two types of this problem. When you say more and you are looking for the smaller part, it is considered the harder version because it is counterintuitive. The task is to find the smaller part.
Happy Mathing,
Dr. Nicki
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