Sunday, April 28, 2013

What do you do when they just don't get it?

I just had a very disheartening moment when I was grading papers from this past week. We have been working on single step word problems for a week and a half. I have taught them the logic behind knowing how to solve the problems and key words. When I graded my papers the highest grade was a 73. The other 23 students failed. We have been over and over the strategies for solving the problems. We have worked more problems than I can count. Now I am just at a loss for what to do next. Why is it that our kids have such trouble with word problems? Is it that the logic skills are not there yet? Is it that they are not expected to think critically in every day life? Surely they know that if they are buying a candy bar for $1.35 and they have $5.00 to spend they will hand the clerk the $5 bill and he or she will give them change. She will calculate their change by subtracting the amount of the item from the money they gave her. I really just don't understand why it does not click in their heads. Is it just my class or my school or do all of you have this problem too? Do you have any suggestions for what I should try next? I really need advice from you guys on how to help my kiddos out. Discouraged but not giving up!


  1. I think it is awesome that you are exposing your future third graders to this type of problem solving. But don't be discouraged. The concept of part/part/whole is a super hard concept that some may not be developmentally ready for. They still struggle with it in third grade. Show them a model for part/part/whole and how it relates to fact families. Try using play money with amounts less than a dollar. Partners can take turns being buyer and check out clerk. Also, using a problem solving map really helps when teaching problem solving. It forces their brains to get into the habit of breaking down the problem. I would also encourage parents to involve them in these real life experiences over the summer. It will really help them in third grade! Hope this helps!

    Teaching With Moxie

  2. Diane, thank you so much for the great advice!