Write It Out!
Writing out their thoughts is another tool to help with comprehension and problem-solving. In general, this is slightly more attuned with note-taking, but it is a valuable process that helps children organize their thoughts and be able to communicate them more succinctly. Writing reinforces the information and spurs critical thinking. But it is important to stress early on, that neatness is important. After all, you can't follow what you've written, let alone explain it to anyone if you can't read your own handwriting.
So, as in the previously stated word problem, once it's been read out loud, the class should write the following question: What needs to be solved?
Doing this sparks logical reasoning. The answer to the question should be written immediately after: How many more apples does Troy have to pick?
Now, have the class list the clues given in the problem, write out the clues provided in the word problem, what method(s) they think can solve it, and what special word hinted towards their answer.
- Troy needs 255 apples
- Troy already has 89 apples
The special hint is how many more apples, so that means I need to subtract 89 from 255
- 255 - 89 = 166
- Troy needs to pick 166 more apples to get to 255
Engagement is crucial because it strips away the fear, and is a terrific confidence booster for the child. Once their thoughts and ideas have been written down, share some of them with the class. Put their ideas to the test on the chalkboard. Have them explain their methods and their reasoning based on their notes. This is why proper handwriting is key. They need to be able to retrace their steps and explain them to others. This helps with memory, plus the student will be able to recall much faster as they get used to more word problems. If the child believes they have a way to solve the problem based on everything they've written, let them try it. Put it to the board, and make sure that each step is followed through. Have children double-check their own work first. Make them feel more responsible and proud of their work. If the child feels they've made a mistake, congratulate them for being so vigilant, and have them try again, only go more slowly. Remember to tell them, it's okay to make mistakes. Even mistakes can be useful because they are a part of problem-solving too. Go through the steps one-at-a-time, at a pace that's comfortable for them, in order to determine the answer. Over time, he or she will develop a methodology that works for them, and it will become automatic. By having the child talk about what they did, you are also bolstering their communication skills and self-confidence. If this practice is carried over at home as well, you should see an increase in class participation and performance over the course of the term.