Are you frustrated with trying to teach problem solving? Here is a novel idea: Try not solving it.

Materials you will need: word problems (look in your math T.E.'s, math centers, math journal topics, etc.), Math Action Posters - I have 1 addition poster that says Join, and 3 subtraction poster - compare, find the missing part, and separate.

Procedure: Tell kids that today we are not going to solve math problems. Nope! They are not to solve the problem. Instead they need to tell you what math action is happening in the problem. So read the first problem: Mary Jane has 3 cookies. Juanita gives her 2 more. How many cookies does Mary Jane have? Have them decide ( now here is the key): WHAT IS HAPPENING? Is something joining? Are the cookies separating? Are we looking for missing cookies? Are we comparing Mary Jane and Juanita's cookies? Once they understand you are NOT solving the problem, just thinking about what is happening problem solving gets easier. This is the step we skip over too often and this is the step that kids don't get most often. So once they understand ACTIONS, then they can understand the OPERATION that the action tells them to do. So if they recognize the cookies are joining together, then they will know to add. The math action then tells them what operation to do.

Such a simple activity, but so very hard for kids to get. This is really good for all the different kinds of subtraction that there are. Try It!

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