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On 15 Jan 1998 Dale Zeretzke wrote:

> Peg Tittle posted the following request today.  I would very much
> appreciate a copy of the  response also, if it occurs off-list.  TIA.

>>I recall that someone sometime posted something about doing word
>>problems.  One of my math tutors just expressed a need to have more
>>strategies for helping her tutees with word problems.  If that person
can
>>contact me, off list if you like, I'd appreciate it!

>Dale Zeretzke, Counselor
>Grays Harbor College
>[log in to unmask]

Dale: Here's a response I sent:

John M. Flanigan <[log in to unmask]>     The equation is the final arbiter.
Math Resource Instructor                            --Werner Heisenberg
Kapi'olani Community College            The scoreboard is the final arbiter.
Honolulu, Hawaii                                    --Bill Walton


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 12:59:56 -1000 (HST)
From: "John M. Flanigan" <[log in to unmask]>
To: Peg Tittle <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: math word problems help

Peg:

I don't know if my postings were the ones you saw, but...

I present workshops on word problems at which I stress that the
difficulties students have with word problems are essentially reading
problems. I encourage them to restate the problem, to build a mental image
of what is going on. I even suggest that they use color, motion,
exaggeration, absurdity--all those things that memory experts suggest to
enhance memory.

The biggest problem I see is that they have trouble visualizing. (Is that
because TV doesn't leave room to visualize, the way books did?) I use a
series of sample problems, moving from very simple to more elaborate
version of a similar problem (I call it "morphing") to help them see what
visualizing the problem means.

Example: We have a new freeway -- the H3 -- that has just opened and has
been in the news quite frequently. Its most striking component is a huge,
technologically advanced, tunnel through the Ko'olau mountain. I will ask
the students how they might determine the number of cars that pass through
the tunnel. (Imagine standing at the tunnel entrance for 24 hours and
counting.) Then I will ask how they might determine how much gasoline a
particular car would use driving the 15-mile length. Then I might ask how
they might estimate the total amount of gasoline all the cars would
use... how much CO2 is generated... etc.

The students give me positive reviews, but I don't have any way of
determining objectively that it does practical good. But they keep coming,
so I guess it serves a need at least. (Actually I'm being too careful:
Many students have told me that it helped both in their ability to work
the problems and in their attitude toward them--which may be even more
important to many.)

Please let me know how you tackle the problem, and what results you
perceive.

Aloha,

John M. Flanigan <[log in to unmask]>     The equation is the final arbiter.
Math Resource Instructor                            --Werner Heisenberg
Kapi'olani Community College            The scoreboard is the final arbiter.
Honolulu, Hawaii                                    --Bill Walton


On Thu, 15 Jan 1998, Peg Tittle wrote:

> Hello.  I recall that someone sometime posted something about doing word
> problems.  One of my math tutors just expressed a need to have more
> strategies for helping her tutees with word problems.  If that person can
> contact me, off list if you like, I'd appreciate it!  (I'm not a math
> person.)
>
> Peg Tittle
> [log in to unmask]
>