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How to Work Word Problems - Book Review

Math Word Problems
Publisher: Learning Express, LLC, New York, 2008

Many students do not like Math word problems. They cannot seem to translate words into the language of math. Yet, there are many opinions on how to work word problems. Learning Express does a thorough job of getting their point across and is worth reading.

Brief Description: Math Word Problems addresses how to approach word problems and how to apply their eight step approach to word problems in Algebra, Geometry, and a few other trouble areas in math. The intent of this text is not to teach any math topic from scratch but to teach you how to turn words into number sentences.
Here’s the Table of Contents

*Introduction
*Pretest
*Keywords of Word Problems
*Breaking Down Word Problems
*Using Pictures, Tables, and Venn Diagrams
*Word Problem Pitfalls
*Multi-step Problems
*Fractions, Percents, and Decimals
*Ratios and Percents
*Statistics and Probability
*Formulas and Mixtures
*Geometry
*Posttest
*Glossary

Features I like:
The answers to the practice problems are at the end of the chapter instead of the back of the book. In fact, the answers are accompanied with explanations!

Each chapter has several information boxes in common. There are about five of them, but the ones I like the most are the Fuel for Thought, Inside Track, and Caution boxes.
In spite of a glossary at the back of the book, The Fuel for Thought defines new terms as they are introduced. The Inside Track shares alternative methods to solve a problem, tips and interesting tidbits. The Caution box makes readers aware of common mistakes.

To Be Desired:
Ideally, I would have wanted to see more pictures and diagrams included in the Geometry chapter. However, I must say that the explanations were longer.



Comments
The average student in elementary or high school may not pick up this book, but they or their parents should. Math Word Problems serves as a good reference and study guide for teachers, parents, and all students. Here’s why. Although time may not be available to take the pretest, you can read the chapters independent of each other. However, I recommend everyone reads chapters 1 - 5. Then, if only word problems with fractions and percents are challenging for you, then go directly to that chapter. Now, there is nothing new under the sun, but you may find a different way of getting your point across to your students or a better understanding for yourself. For example, I received insight on another way to help students determine whether to multiply or divide. Most of all, the explanations are invaluable. The explanations are broken into the steps taught in chapter 2, Breaking Down Word Problems, and you’re told explicitly what should happen in the step along with reasons why.



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