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Math Help - Word Problems

  1. #1
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    Word Problems

    (1) What is the best way to master, if you will, solving word problems?

    (Please, don't answer the obvious like PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, etc.)

    (2) Why do textbooks call word problems APPLICATIONS?

    (3) Why do elementary school teachers call word problems MATH STORIES?

    Thanks
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by symmetry View Post
    (1) What is the best way to master, if you will, solving word problems?

    (Please, don't answer the obvious like PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, etc.)

    (2) Why do textbooks call word problems APPLICATIONS?

    (3) Why do elementary school teachers call word problems MATH STORIES?

    Thanks
    (1). Whose best way? My best way? Your best way? Gerald's best way?
    My best way might not be best for you. Might not be best for Gerald also.
    [Who is Gerald? Anybody not you and not me.]
    My best way may not even be considered as best even by me.

    Say there is really a standard best way and it is taught in classes, or is kept secret but is known all over the world due to the Internet. Say also almost all of the students can follow that best way. Wow, what a wonderful world it will be as far as solving word problems is concerned.

    No, there is no best way. Good ways, various of them, yes, there are.

    Here is a part of a good way, my style. It may not be good for you or for others, but, hey, it works for me.

    Read the word problem correctly. Find what is being asked for. Understand what is being asked for. Because the solution revolves around that what is being asked for.

    List down the givens. Or be aware of them. Are they related to what is being asked for? Are they related to each other, or one to another, to create a relation to the what is being asked for with that/those relations?

    Make relations about the givens and the what is being asked for in the forms of equations or proportions or functions or whatever, any relation. Then work on those relations to find what is being asked for. [Relations by formulas, guesses, sequences, whatever.]

    Is that a good way for you?

    Oh, I always say, if you know what is being asked for, then you solved 30 percent of the word problem. The other 70 percent may only be "mechanical" or "following the flow"---the "dirty job", yes, but in many times easy only because you have or you know the "goal".

    ------------------------
    (2) Why do textbooks call word problems APPLICATIONS?

    I don't know. Our textbooks when I was going to school called them word problems.

    "Applications" by others maybe because the word problems mostly deal with actual, concrete, physical, real life situations. Have you heard about Applied Math? Why "applied" math?

    Applications---Applied. Umm....

    -------------------------------------
    (3) Why do elementary school teachers call word problems MATH STORIES?

    Again, I don't know. Our teachers then called them word problems.
    (It was simpler then.)

    Word problems. Words. Stories.
    "x^2 -3y = 4" is not story.
    "If three times a quantity is taken away from another quantity that was multiplied by itself before, we get four items." Sounds a story to me.
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  3. #3
    Grand Panjandrum
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    Quote Originally Posted by symmetry View Post
    (1) What is the best way to master, if you will, solving word problems?

    (Please, don't answer the obvious like PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, etc.)

    See ticbols answer.

    (2) Why do textbooks call word problems APPLICATIONS?

    (3) Why do elementary school teachers call word problems MATH STORIES?
    I don't recall ever having been asked a word problem when I was at school,
    so presumably fashions change even in (especially?) in schools mathematics.

    I have also noticed that school mathematics loves giving names to ideas that
    never needed them before, and changing perfectly good names for things for
    no good reason.

    RonL
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  4. #4
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    ok

    Thank you BOTH for your replies. I can see that not all methods can be used by one person. We must find the method that's right for our way of thinking.

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