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Raising the Bar on Numbers
Volume 118, Program 38
1/29/2013
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The results are in—and your budding Shakespeare could use a little help with addition and subtraction! Math professor Fred Worth shares tips with host Mike Smith on today’s Home School Heartbeat.

Mike Smith:
Fred, we’ve been talking this week about why kids might struggle in math. Tell the parents listening what they can do to bring up their student’s math performance.

Fred Worth:
Well, the ability to problem-solve is vital to success in mathematics—whether we’re talking about taking standardized tests, or just learning mathematics in homeschool. Not all problems on tests are word problems, but they are very important.

The first word problems come up in first grade, where Mary has some apples, and Johnny gives her some more. Nobody has any trouble with those, but each year the word problems get tougher, until you have one train leaving Boston at 10 a.m., and another train leaving Cleveland at 11 a.m. Most people have a difficult time solving the more complicated problems, because they’ve never really been instructed in problem-solving techniques.

There’s a method that I teach that can really help in learning how to do word problems. And, Mike, I believe you’ll be telling people how to contact you in order to get a copy of this. The first step is to just read the problem. The second is to think about the problem. Then, determine what’s important, drawing a picture and labeling the picture, then finding the formula, which is where most people try to start, adapting the formula to the problem, solving the equation, answering the question, and then thinking about whether the answer makes sense. This method can go a long way in teaching your child how to be a better problem solver—not just in mathematics, but in life.

Mike:
Those are great suggestions, Fred! Thanks for sharing them with us. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.


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Dr. Fred Worth has developed a plan of attack for that formidable math challenge, the story problem! Request our free resource sheet, and conquer the story problems in your math curriculum.

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