We finished up our first round of state testing this week, and have our next test coming up the following week. As much as I felt I had given my kids enough practice with story problems, I apparently hadn’t, because many of them did not do as well as I had expected on the math test. Of course, this was just from over the shoulder peeking, but the first thing that jumped out was that I didn’t see them doing the strategies we’ve talked about. I didn’t see crossing out and underlining and circling. I didn’t see them “attack” the problem like we practiced. I did see some deer in headlights looks though.
For a while, our plan was to spend a day a week on story problems. Unfortunately, when it came down to it, and we missed so many instructional days due to weather, it just didn’t happen. And it’s hard to give up a day for story problems when we are already spending a day on an algebra readiness program (that I love and love that time). That would basically leave us 3 days to teach. And it just didn’t work.
So on our snow day on Wednesday, yes, a snow day in March, I brainstormed. I decided I wanted to do a story problem every day. I wanted some days to be simple for students. And I wanted some days to really push them. I want them to work together to build their strategies and I want them to feel more comfortable with story problems.
I created this monthly themed set, around spring ideas and St. Patrick’s Day, as a way to do a daily practice. I figured I’d see how this worked out, and if I liked it, I’d probably create similar ones for each month of the school year.
One big idea I focused on this set was the rigor. These are HARD. They aren’t so much meant to be independent practice for my third graders. They’re meant to force students to try strategies to come to an answer. They’re meant to be used as a discussion piece, and maybe, just maybe, the kids will get the right answers. Sometimes. I did vary the levels of difficulty. If it was too hard every day, the kids would give up, or not even try. Some days most kids will be successful on their own. Some days most kids will not be successful on their own. And that’s okay. But I do want to use it as an opportunity to have the students teach each other, and hear the tools and strategies their peers are using.
I have 4 pages for free in the PREVIEW link on TpT. Just click that, and then the arrow to download, so you can try a few of them out with your students. Click on any of the pictures to head to my TpT store.
This is part of my larger story problems bundle which you can find here.
I’d love to hear what you think about them, or what you do to help students with story problems in your classroom.