Making Sense of Story Problems

by Deborah Peart, Grade 2 Lead

Many people have an aversion to word problems. They cringe at the mention of them. In elementary classrooms, teachers often report that this is what their students struggle with most. When word problems show up in math class, even students who enjoy reading will release a sigh and let their shoulders droop. “Do words even belong in math class?” they wonder. The answer is yes, they do! But students need guidance in how to make sense of story problems because in many classrooms they are taught to compartmentalize their learning in math class. While students are often encouraged to integrate social studies and language arts, mathematics is more frequently taught in isolation. In order for students to see math in the world around them, we must consider all the ways in which we can bring mathematics to life through stories.

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