Mathematize It! [Grades 6-8]
Going Beyond Key Words to Make Sense of Word Problems, Grades 6-8
- Kimberly Morrow-Leong
- Sara Delano Moore - Mathematics Consultant
- Linda M. Gojak - Mathematics Consultant, NCTM Past-President
Corwin Mathematics Series
Elementary Teaching Methods | Mathematics
Help students reveal the math behind the words
“I don’t get what I’m supposed to do!” This is a common refrain from students when asked to solve word problems.
Solving problems is about more than computation. Students must understand the mathematics of a situation to know what computation will lead to an appropriate solution. Many students often pluck numbers from the problem and plug them into an equation using the first operation they can think of (or the last one they practiced). Students also tend to choose an operation by solely relying on key words that they believe will help them arrive at an answer, without careful consideration of what the problem is actually asking of them.
Mathematize It! Going Beyond Key Words to Make Sense of Word Problems, Grades 6–8 shares a reasoning approach that helps students dig into the problem to uncover the underlying mathematics, deeply consider the problem’s context, and employ strong operation sense to solve it. Through the process of mathematizing, the authors provide an explanation of a consistent method—and specific instructional strategies—to take the initial focus off specific numbers and computations and put it on the actions and relationships expressed in the problem.
Sure to enhance teachers’ own operation sense, this user-friendly resource for Grades 6–8:
· Offers a systematic mathematizing process for students to use when solving word problems
· Gives practice opportunities and dozens of problems to leverage in the classroom
· Provides specific examples of questions and explorations for multiplication and division, fractions and decimals, as well as operations with rational numbers
· Demonstrates the use of visual representations to model problems with dozens of short videos
· Includes end-of-chapter activities and reflection questions
How can you help your students understand what is happening mathematically when solving word problems? Mathematize it!
Mathematize It! is a must have for every middle school teacher! The authors provide clear guidance and suggestions to help our students become effective problem solvers. The opportunities provided to ponder and practice, as well as the student sample work and videos, make this a resource you will grow professionally from and positively impact student learning. I wish I had this resource when I started teaching 25 years ago!
This dynamic author trio brings years of classroom experiences to one of the central problems of teaching and learning mathematics: making sense of word problems. Focusing on the construct of ‘mathematizing’—drawing, constructing, describing, representing, and making sense of situations—this clear and practical guide needs to be required reading and discussion fodder for every middle school teacher of mathematics. It’s just that clear, classroom grounded, and insightful!
When I read Mathematize It!, I experienced a journey of extending the way I think about mathematical ideas. Readers can develop their mathematical knowledge for teaching by reading this book. Also, with their sandbox approach, the authors describe a problem-solving process that is playful and exploratory. The sandbox process also orients problem solvers toward seeing mathematical structures and relationships. I recommend reading this book to experience deep mathematics and, in turn, learn more about how to support students with engaging in mathematizing.
The list of generational math books to come along and truly synthesize what we know so far and what we need to know is a very short and exclusive list. Well, you can confidently add Mathematize It! to this collection. Written by three of the most respected math educators today, the book zeros in on that often poorly traveled journey between the question and answer in problem solving. Mathematize It! will be your go-to resource to install the mathematical play revolution in elementary classes everywhere!
Mathematize It! is a must-read for anyone who has struggled to teach word problems and is ready to figure out what really works. The authors present a plethora of strategies that help students focus on the thinking part of the problem-solving process while gently helping the reader understand that so many of our ‘tried-and-true’ methods, such as key words, really don’t work. They help us realize that the real work of solving word problems is in the sense-making phase—once students have made sense of a problem, calculating the solution is the simpler part of the process.
Mathematize It! addresses the complexity of problem solving more completely than any other individual resource. It is easy to say that we must teach students to ‘mathematize situations’ but this book helps us to actually help students learn to do it. The challenge and reflection pieces at the end of each chapter are a game changer for unveiling teaching opportunities, prompting discussion in your PLC, and moving this from a book on the professional shelf to a powerful tool to impact instruction.
Mathematize It! is a book that should be on the shelf of every classroom teacher and division leader who supports mathematics teaching and leading. This valuable resource helps educators to think about the what, why, and the how to make sense of word problems. It gives a framework and visuals on how to support teachers’ understanding around problem types and solving problems and excels in assisting teachers in how to make a commitment to teaching for greater understanding.
This is a game changer … even after 20 years of supporting students and their sensemaking of word problems, I am thrilled to learn even more from this trio of authors. They offer practical suggestions, opportunities for practice, and relevant research in order to increase awareness of best practices surrounding word problems. The only key word in this case is MATHEMATIZE! To have this resource in your hands is to have an invitation to the ‘mathematizing sandbox’.”
As our students begin to mathematize the world around them, it becomes extremely important that we listen to their thinking so that we can continue to move their understanding forward. What makes Mathematize It! such a useful tool for teachers is that it thoughtfully unpacks student strategies, which helps inform and guide our next move as a classroom teacher.
Mathematize It! engages readers deeply in the mathematics content through an easy-to-use visual analogy: playing in a sandbox. The authors have found a way to make problem-solving seem like a fun task—one that is akin to something we’ve all been doing forever: playing. Their clever and applicable problem-solving model of thinking provides a structure teachers can use to support students in tackling word problems and actually enjoying the process. It’s time for you to play in the sandbox and more importantly, Mathematize It!
Sample Materials & Chapters
Sample Chapters_Mathematize It! Grades 6-8