3e.EX1: Student-Created Math Word Problems 2017-07-26T12:09:12-08:00

Ex1: Student-created math word problems

3e: Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness

Educator: Rich Kronberg [Email Rich]
School: Anchorage, Retired

Appropriate for Grade Levels: 5-8
Content area(s): Math

How does this lesson or technique improve student learning?

Few assignments bring more groaning and moaning than math word problems. Students often complain about the lack of relevance of textbook problems to their own lives. By having students create their own word problems, write out the solutions to their problems, and then lead either the whole class or a smaller group of students in solving their word problems students begin to see the practical application of math to their own lives. They also have practice in writing math problems and solutions to their own problems in a coherent manner, as well as the solutions to the word problems developed by other students. By creating a book including at least one example of a student-written problem and the student created solution to that problem each student has tangible evidence of their problem-solving knowledge.

What does it look like in my classroom?

Introductory lesson: about 40 minutes

We begin with a thorough discussion of the assignment. The teacher should demonstrate several examples of the sort of problems students could write. The time spent on this first lesson depends on whether or not students have prior experience in writing their own word problems. It is helpful to have a few examples at hand, hopefully including examples students will find humorous. That depends upon the age and sophistication of the students.

The key to this activity (why it works so well for this component):

Follow-up lessons: These can take from 10 to 15 minutes per day

Students are assigned to write up a few problems and submit them along with their written out answers where they explain why they have selected particular algorithms to solve their problems and work through the algorithms they need for a correct solution. The teacher selects one problem for the entire class to work through. After students have time to solve the problems and go through the same explanations as the student who wrote the problem. Finally, The student who wrote the problem has the opportunity to lead the class discussion on the problem and the solution.

The class does one or more of these a day until each student has the chance to have at least one of their problems worked through by the class.

Supporting materials

Artifacts to gather for evaluation

  • Each student gets a copy of their book to share with others.

The Danielson Connection

This meets a high level in the Danielson Framework because it links the students’ interests to the lesson in a meaningful way. The connection to other students that requires them to solve other student’s word problems enhances the personal ownership of the lesson.