MIDDLE SCHOOL MATH
is a series of five books designed to providepractice
and concepts taughtin today's middle school mathematicsprograms. The series uses many of thesame puzzle formats as
both published by Creative Publications.We believe that mastery of math skills andconcepts requires both good teaching and agreat deal of practice. Our goal
to providepuzzle activities that make this practicemore meaningful and effective. To this end,we have tried to build into these activitiesthree characteristics:
Variousdevices are used in the puzzles to tellstudents whether or not their answersare correct. Feedback occurs immediatelyafter the student works each exercise.For example,
a particular answer is not
the code or scrambled answer list, thestudent knows
is incorrect. He or shecan then try again or ask for help.Additional feedback and reinforcementoccurs when the student finds a puzzlesolution that is appropriate. Thisimmediate knowledge of results benefitsstudents and also teachers, who nolonger have to spend time confirmingcorrect answers.
The puzzles are designed sothat students will construct a joke orunscramble the answer to a riddle inthe process of checking their answers.The humor operates as an incentive,because the students are not rewarded
the punch line until they completethe exercises. While students may decrythese jokes as
groan loudly,our experience has been that they enjoythe jokes
look forward to solving thepuzzles. The humor has a positive effecton class morale. In addition to humor,the variety and novelty of procedures forsolving the puzzles help capture studentinterest. By keeping scrambled answerlists short and procedures simple, wehave tried to
the time spent onfinding answers or doing other puzzlemechanics.
The puzzles withineach topic area are carefully sequencedso that each one builds on
andconcepts previously covered. Thesequence of exercises within each puzzleis designed to guide students in incre
step fashion towardmastery of the
or concept involved.
the development of problem
solving ability. In order to solveproblems, students need not only rulesand strategies but also a meaningfulunderstanding of basic concepts. Somepuzzles in this series are designed specif
ically to build concepts. Other puzzles,especially those for estimation, also helpdeepen students' understanding byencouraging them to look at numbers asquantities rather than just as symbols tobe manipulated. For puzzles specificallykeyed to problem solving, we have triedto write problems that are interestingand uncontrived. We have included extrainformation in some problems, and havealso mixed problem types within sets,so that the problems cannot be solvedmechanically.In addition to these efforts to make thepuzzles effective, we have tried to makethem easy to use. The topic for each puzzle
given both at the bottom of the puzzlepage and in the Table of Contents on pagesiv and v. Each puzzle
keyed to a specifictopic in recent editions of leading middleschool textbooks. Each puzzle requiresduplicating only one page, and manyof them provide space for student work.Finally, because the puzzles are self
correcting, they can eliminate the task of correcting assignments.
hope that both you and your studentswill enjoy using these materials.Steve and