How many times have you watched a student read (…skim) a word problem and then immediately start computing the answer before you have even had a chance to give directions? No matter how much we talked about the importance of taking time to understand the problem, I always have those students who just pull out the numbers, choose a random operation, and solve. And let me tell you… it. drives. me. crazy. This is about the time that I throw a new word problem on the board, take my favorite black sharpie and color over the numbers because I know numberless word problems are exactly what they need. So why does a word problem without numbers fix all my problems? Here’s why.

Read MoreCuriosity is a powerful thing. We want to see that desire in our students! We want our kids so invested in the math that they are doing that they can’t stop until they figure it out. Kids are naturally curious, even if it isn’t always what we would like them to be curious about. If we can peak students’ curiosity in our math classrooms, then we’ve got them hooked. When students are curious, they are engaged. When they are engaged in meaningful tasks, they learn. That sounds like a win all the way around, right? So how can we open up our math problems to wonder and curiosity so that students are motivated and engaged in the math they are doing? Here are two of my favorite strategies for encouraging mathematical curiosity through word problems!

Read MoreI think it's safe to say we have all had those students who immediately after reading a math problem raises their hand and simultaneously shouts "but I don't get it!" It can be incredibly frustrating because you know they have not truly taken a reasonable amount of time to think through the problem and try to do *something*.