Strategy 9: Re-write the Problem

Here’s a writing strategy that can help students comprehend better what they are reading. Ask students to read a story problem, and then re-write it from a different point of view, a different “voice.” They could write it from the point of view of one of the numbers. Or they could put themselves into the problem. Not only would they have fun with it, but it would give you great insight into how they are reading and interpreting the problem. Have them share their new problems with each other.

Try it:
A small plane carrying three people makes a forced landing in the desert. The people decide to split up and go in three different directions in search of an oasis. They agree to divide equally the food and water they have, which includes 15 identical canteens, 5 full of water, 5 half-full of water, and 5 empty. They will want to take the empty canteens with them in case they find an oasis. How can they equally divide the water and the canteens among themselves? (Hyde, p. 31)

Here's a student's re-writing of this problem, with a drawing. Notice how it's also a good language arts assignment.
rewrite of canteen problem.pdf (right-click and choose "Open in New Window")