Why math word problems matter THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2014 10:41 AM 

Before the Common Core State Standards, there were word problems in math class. The implementation of the new Standards did not remove those types of problems from workbooks and lectures across the country, much to the dismay of students for whom math (and specifically languagebased computation) is a struggle. Despite the shuddering induced by what seems to be a challenging math problem, word scenarios are vital to math education. These problems represent reasoning in mathematics, and it's this portion that math teachers want their students to retain most. However, some argue students aren't getting the full picture of reasoning, and that's why they struggle through class with frustration and a desire to be anywhere else. Can math teachers work with the Common Core to improve math instruction and thus reasoning abilities? Yes, it can definitely be done. Making math about the real world In his Ted Talk, Meyers argued for the importance of grounding students in math reasoning. Although doing so is more challenging than feeding formulas, once learned, students retain the knowledge. When they forget a formula, they can look to their reasoning skills to solve problems. If they forget both, solving math problems will be a challenge. How do you teach students to reason? Word problems and applying math to realworld scenarios helps. Learning patience "The math serves the conversation; the conversation doesn't serve the math," Meyers said in his Ted Talk. 
