Losing my marbles

Andrew’s math curriculum involves a textbook, a workbook, and a book of Challenging Word Problems.  He works in all three simultaneously, and the challenging word problems (CWPs) are, well, challenging – not just for Andrew, but for ME!

Singapore’s elementary math series doesn’t teach algebra per se,  but it does teach nifty ways to do problems that I would consider algebraic without actually using algebra.  Instead, you draw bars and blocks to set up equivalencies.  It’s quite visual, which I love, and it does let a kid SEE what’s going on without getting into x’s and y’s.  Frankly, I find the process amazing.  Josiah did Singapore Elementary Math before moving into Algebra 1, and I think Singapore gave him a good practical foundation.  I’m hoping Andrew will likewise benefit.

Although Andrew usually does okay (80%ish, on average) with the problems in the textbook and workbook, he is consistently completely overwhelmed by the challenging word problems.  Because Scott and I also consider them pretty intense for the average American 10 year-old (although I guess in Singapore they breed ’em to do these types of calculations at insanely young ages), we decided to count the CWPs as bonuses.  For each CWP, he can get up to three bonus points:  one for doing it alone, one for setting up the right logic, and one for doing the calculations correctly.

Right now, Andrew’s working with per cents, and while he’s doing pretty well wih the textbook and workbook per cent problems, as usual, he’s bombing the CWPs.  Today I was looking over two CWPs he missed so that I will be able to show him how to do them when we go over corrections.

Get a load of this little gem for 5th graders:  “Box A had 400 marbles.  Box B had 500 marbles.  30% of Box A’s marbles and 60% of Box B’s marbles were white, and the rest were blue.  30% of Box A’s blue marbles and 25% of Box B’s blue marbles were transferred to the other box at the same time.  How many more marbles were there in Box B than Box A at the end?”

I did correctly calculate the answer, but now I will need to explain the process to Andrew.  I feel like I’m losing my marbles.


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