Interventions for Problem Solving in Math

problem solving interventions math

There are many ways to teach problem solving to elementary students. Most students are successful with a well structured problem solving plan.  However, we all have at least a few students who just don’t “get it” with regular classroom lessons. Working one on one or in small groups and applying well planned interventions helps these students find success.

My favorite “Go To” intervention strategies are:  

math interventions

Often students read the problem and pick a method to solve without really addressing the question asked.  I like to point out to my students which part of a problem is the question and which part is the “story” or “clues”. This helps students to see what part of the problem is telling and which part is asking.  I like to use this analogy with my students: “I asked Shelley what color the sky is. She told me the grass is green. Did she lie? No, but did she answer my question? NO” and then relate this to word problems. If you use the clues, but you don’t answer the question, you haven’t solved the problem. One way to make this successful is to give your students a problem without the question, then have the students brainstorm as many different questions they can think of for clues.

analyze the question

Another way to help with this is to give your students 3 problems that share the same clues, but have different questions. This is a good way to show students that they need to analyze the question before they make up their mind about what steps to take. (Click the photo above for a FREE set of analyzing the question word problems).

 interventions for problem solving

This helps some students to understand the question better.  Look at the example below. After reading the story problem, ask the students to rewrite the question as a sentence with a blank for the answer. Do this before discussing and strategies for solving the problem.  The process of rewriting the question as a statement helps students to focus on what is being asked. After solving the problem, have your students place their answer in the blank and read the statement with the number in the blank. Teach them to ask themselves if their answer makes sense in the statement.

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word problems interventionsMost word problems follow a standard format with clues first and question last. Some students have trouble filtering the question out of the story. Students that have this problem can benefit from working from the bottom up. Teach them to read the question first (usually at the end) and then read the whole problem to gather clues.  I usually save this strategy for students who really need that extra something after trying other interventions. It does not work for everyone, but for some it is the “magic trick” to help them organize the problem. Also, they usually need to do this until they get better at other strategies.

Want more ideas for interventions?

more math help 3ata-pin-description

Geometry Center Activities

Geometry is one of my favorite units to teach! Maybe it is because I like to quilt so the patterns and shapes are fun for me! Maybe it is because there are so many hands on activities for my students!  Some of my favorite activities for centers and/or workstations (math workshop) are:

1.  Tangrams:

tangrams

I love to give my students tangrams and let them explore spatial relationships while building patterns and recreating patterns from books like “Grandfather Tang” and “Tangramables”. If you are lucky enough to have plastic sets of tangrams you can set them up in a center with the books and let your children explore with the shapes. If you need to make your own tangrams, you can download a free pattern here. Print on card stock and cut out. You can also find some cute cards for using tangrams here.

 2.  Make 3D Shapes:  

Watermarked 1

Head over to Teaching Ideas For Those Who Love Teaching to See step by step how to make these awesome 3D Shapes with Marshmallows and Toothpicks! Yum!

Foldable-3d-shapes

Or … If you prefer paper shapes, Math Geek Mama has Free Printables to make your own shapes!

 3.  Geometry Scavenger Hunt: 

geo scavenger hunt

Kids need to get out of their seat and move around! One of your best centers can be the scavenger hunt. Place questions around the room and give your students a record sheet to use while they work.  For directions to make your own, see this post:  Making A Scavenger Hunt.  Or to use premade, print and go resources click here: Scavenger Hunt 1, or here  Scavenger Hunt 2.

 

4. Task Cards:

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These task cards are great for starting higher level discussions with your students.  Students work together to answer questions identifying, comparing and analyzing critical attributes of 2 and 3 d shapes.

5. Technology: 

Hopefully you have a few computers in your classroom you can use for a station. Here are two good websites for Geometry:

Sheppard Software:

quadrilateral game

PBS Cyberchase:

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