Mastering Word Problems–Notability

A few weeks ago, we shared about the iPad app, Notability, which
enables us to create visual images of characters that can be easily
duplicated, rotated, shrunken or enlarged for each “scene” of the
story.  Last week, we shared about the language of math, promising more information on how to use Notability to help make word problems more visual for our students with language difficulty.

When students are very young, it is easy to draw visual representations of math problems, such as 2+3.  As students get older, however, the demands of the math problems increase.  It is not feasible to have students draw representations of larger numbers.  I have noticed that we simply skip this step, expecting older students to jump over the representative step, right to the symbolic step.  If students are not yet able to make this adjustment, they can be frustrated trying to get at what is being asked.  Notability helps resolve that problem!

My student was struggling with what to do when the word problem said,  “There are eight groups of four students.”  I asked her to draw four students, so she drew:

I said, “That’s great, there are four students there, but how many groups do we need?” She said, “Eight groups”.  I showed her the “Copy” function on the app (the scissors icon).  She circled the four students, pressed copy, then paste. I said, “Great, now you have two groups, how many do you need?” She pressed paste again, and immediately said, “Oh! I get it, I need to multiply 4×8!” Here is what it would look like with eight groups of four students:

This app is great for division and subtraction as well, with a handy eraser, multiple colors and highlighters.  Your older students who still require visual representations will appreciate your using Notability, not just for reading comprehension, but also for word problems!