Eureka math draws students into math using real life. When students are taught to solve story problems, everything is brought together. The acronym taught in Eureka Math is RDW which stands for read, draw, write! Students are taught to read the story for comprehension, draw a picture to solve, write an equation to solve, and write a statement with the final answer. Wow! That does sound like a lot all at once. However, there is ease in the process given to the students with the time spent on drawing pictures, solving equations, fact fluency, and then incorporating writing a complete sentence. How well rounded the students are to have literacy integrated into their math this way! Students are using their comprehension skills, math computation, and writing skills. At the primary level, integration of all skills is key to building students with strategies and fluency. When students are first approached with a story problem, I encourage them to read it three times. This way they are reading for decoding the words, then reading for understanding, finally reading for finding out what exactly the problem is to be solved. Then students are taught to draw a picture to model what the story is all about. A picture can be an actual drawing of what is happening in the story, a number bond, or bar models. Students then label the picture to decipher the parts and the total. An equation is immediately attached to the drawing for the relationship between the picture and the mathematical computation.
Interactive story problems are a strong way to introduce this concept to the class. First, start with concrete objects and acting out or modeling the problem by physically manipulating the objects in front of the class. In the next phase, provide the students to participate in solving story problems as a whole class. Read the story out loud to them first. Provide all of your thinking aloud to them. Ask yourself questions aloud about what you have read like, “Is the story asking me for the total or a part?” Decide aloud for the class what operation will be needed to solve the problem. Interact with students by asking them to share their thinking aloud. Use a large chart paper or the Smartboard to give students opportunities to participate in the problem solving. I may call on a student to come and draw the picture while the other students watch. Then another student would be called to complete the next section of the problem based on the picture the previous student drew. Each student will be following the process the previous student used in their section of the story problem to solve and build from it. In each part of the process, students are explaining their thinking and validating why or why not that solution is right. Students also discuss whether or not the picture appropriately models the problem that is to be solved. As a whole group, we make a large anchor chart that says RDW in large letters. Then spelling out read, draw, write out next to each letter. Students refer back to this chart regularly until they get into the habit while they work. Since the RDW process provides the students a collaborative and interactive process to solve the problem, students are also provided with a mini “checklist” to be sure they have followed through with solving the problem completely. I like to make small paper checklists that say RDW and tape them on the inside of the students’ math notebooks. This is a great way to encourage self-checking as students complete independent work. It also provides students with a template to use to explain their thinking and check their own work. In the virtual setting, I think the chatbox in either Google Meets or Zoom is a great interactive tool for students to use to participate in solving story problems as a whole group. The RDW method and process of problem solving is introduced early on in the primary grades and continued all the way up. As each year goes on, students learn more strategies to incorporate into their problem solving. The basic method however, stays the same. Eureka has an awesome way of keeping concepts about real life and keeping problem solving strategies consistent year after year.
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