Mathematics word problems are a crucial component of the mathematics curriculum in Singapore. However, many students find it challenging to translate words into mathematical language, necessitating assistance with this aspect of mathematical problem-solving. At Astor International School, we utilize several strategies to enhance our students' abilities to solve mathematics word problems.
Firstly, we encourage our students to focus on comprehending the problem. One of the significant challenges students face when tackling word problems is understanding the problem itself. To address this, we encourage our students to read the problem multiple times and to identify the key pieces of information by highlighting them. Then, we engage in a class discussion and ask ourselves questions such as "What do I know?" and "What am I trying to find?" These questions help students develop a clearer understanding of the problem before attempting to solve it. In addition, we provide manipulatives such as number blocks to aid students in connecting mathematical concepts to concrete situations.
Secondly, we teach our students effective problem-solving strategies. Equipping students with the right problem-solving strategies is crucial in helping them tackle word problems with confidence. In class, we introduce different problem-solving methods such as drawing a picture, making a table, working backwards, or using trial and error. When teaching a new strategy, we often encourage students to work collaboratively in solving word problems. This allows them to share their thought processes and learn from each other.
Lastly, we provide ample practice opportunities to our students. Repetition and practice are essential in developing proficiency in solving math word problems. We offer a variety of word problems that gradually increase in complexity to allow students to build their skills incrementally. To cater to different learning styles, the teachers at Astor provide word problems in varying formats, such as written, verbal, or visual representations. By offering a range of problem-solving experiences, we aim to support students in transferring their mathematical knowledge to real-world applications.
At Astor International School, we strive to cultivate critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities in our students through targeted instruction, effective strategies, and ample practice opportunities.