Word Problems: The Language of Maths



Any teacher who has ever been subjected to the joint chorus of moans whenever the phrase 'word problems' is mentioned will be very glad indeed to own a copy of this wonderfully original book. The book uses a very imaginative and gradual approach to problem solving, introducing one concept at a time, using language and illustrations that are easily accessible and non-threatening.

The book is divided into eight steps, each comprising several examples that help to illustrate the section's learning objective. The book is an ideal tool for Foundation and KS1. I feel that the step-by-step approach would give children an excellent understanding of the mechanics involved in deciphering, posing and solving mathematical word problems - an invaluable skill that can be built upon and exploited in KS2.

The children begin their journey by cutting and pasting sentences to form word problems, matching friendly illustrations, which are then left blank for them to do above the number sentence. Sentences then become word banks and word banks turn into word walls, where children make up their word problems using picture clues. Children are then given illustrations to help them write their own word problems, progressing to writing illustrated word problems to horizontal calculations. Writing frames are then introduced where children are given a word problem and are guided through a series of decision-making steps. At all times the children are prompted for estimates and encouraged to check their results.

Additional games and blank resource sheets allows this book to make a traditionally difficult aspect of mathematics much more accessible and comprehensible for children starting off in their mathematical discoveries.

Reviewed in Primary Mathematics, a Journal of the Mathematical Association, 2002

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This book, aimed at pupils in KS1 and KS2, is both innovative and badly needed. Lack of familiarity with the specialised language often inhibits and adversely affects the understanding of mathematical concepts. This clearly illustrated and photocopiable A4 book (131pages) promotes pupilsí knowledge of what is in effect an additional language and, by using a range of exercises, encourages fluency and confidence in translation.

The authors suggest that the work sheets would be ideal for pupils to complete individually or in pairs and certainly the amount of reading has been restricted and supported with visual cues, in well laid out boxes, to encourage independent work. However, group or classroom use is also appropriate and use of this material within the Numeracy Initiative would promote discussion and highlight areas where more work is needed. Activities include a range of language based tasks that clarify and allow practice of maths vocabulary, plus games and a number of resource sheets to allow teachers to develop their own ideas.

Word Problems: The Language of Maths deals with the first three number concepts of addition, subtraction and multiplication with tens and units.

This book would prove to be a valuable asset in all primary schools, and is outstanding value.

Reviewed in (Special Needs Information Press) SNIP

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The importance of language in mathematics is well recognised in this publication, and the aim to present children with step-by-step approaches to problems in order to help with the solution is effectively achieved. The activities are well presented in a photocopiable, wire bound volume with photocopy-friendly design and printing. The processes of addition, subtraction and multiplication are covered and carefully prepared word lists are included. The volume will appeal to children with difficulties in mathematics.

Reviewed in SATIPS, 2002