## Sunday, August 15, 2021

### How to Teach Word Problems? Teach 5 Steps in Solving Word Problems on the First Day of School…

By Victoria Leon

It is the beginning of the new school year and you are asked to look at which math standards had the lowest test scores from the previous year.   If word problems continue to be your math nemesis, try something different this year and start teaching word problems as your only math lesson on the first day of school.  Help students understand word problems by teaching the Word Problem of the Day every day for your entire school year.  Not only will your word problem test scores increase, but your constant review of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division will increase all of your math standardized test scores!

5 Steps to Teach Word Problems:

Use the entire math time on the first day of school to teach the 5 steps to solve math story problems.  The Word Problem of the Day is written on a chart or on the board in the front of the class.  Each student is given a set of five blank word problem worksheets stapled together so that the packet of five word problems may be turned in at the end of the week.

Teacher:    Who can read the word problem on the board?

Student 1:  Tori had 4 red flowers and 5 orange flowers.  How many flowers did she have in all?

Teacher:    (I write Word Problem at the top of the board with lines under it.  I say the word problem aloud as I write it on the board.). Tori had 4 red flowers and 5 orange flowers.  How many flowers did she have in all?  Everyone now copy the word problem on your worksheet.

STEP 1:     Information

Teacher:    What is the information that we will need to solve this problem?  What numbers will we be using?

Student 2:  4 and 5.

Teacher:    That is correct, we will be using 4 and 5. (I form a circle with my fingers and put it around the 4 and 5 on the word problem chart.)

Teacher:    We have 4 and 5 of what objects?

Student 3:  There are 4 red flowers and 5 orange flowers.

Teacher:    Great, we need to know that there are 4 red flowers and 5 orange flowers to solve the word problem.  (I write Information on the board with lines under it and write 4 red flowers and 5 orange flowers on the lines.). Everyone write 4 red flowers and 5 orange flowers in the Information section on your worksheet.

STEP 2:     Question

Teacher:    What is the question that I need to solve?

Student 4:  How many flowers did she have in all?

Teacher:    That is correct.  (I write Question on the board with lines under it and write How many flowers does she have in all? on the lines.)  Here is the question mark (I form a circle with my fingers around the question mark) and the question is How many flowers did she have in all?  (I point to each word as I say it aloud.). Everyone now write How many flowers does she have in all? in the Question section on your worksheet.

STEP 3:     Draw a picture

Teacher:    We need to draw a picture to solve the word problem.  We do not want to draw a picture of Tori picking flowers.  What picture can we draw using the information that was given to us to solve the problem?

Student 5:  We can draw a picture of 4 red flowers and 5 orange flowers.

Teacher:    Yes, here is a picture of 4 red flowers and 5 orange flowers.  (I write Draw a picture and then draw 4 red flowers and 5 orange flowers in the Draw a picture section.) Everyone now draw 4 red flowers and 5 orange flowers in the Draw the picture section of the worksheet.

STEP 4:     Solve the problem

Teacher:    What do I have to do to the 4 and 5 to find out how many flowers did she have in all?

Student 6:  You have to add 4 and 5 and it equals 9.

Teacher:    Super job, 4 plus 5 equals 9.  (I write Solve the problem and then write 4 + 5 = 9 in the Solve the problem section.) There are 1, 2, 3, 4 red flowers and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 orange flowers (I count aloud as I point.).  There are 9 flowers in all (I wave my hand in a big circle around all of the flowers and count aloud as I point to the flowers.)  There are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 flowers in all.  Everyone write 4 + 5 = 9 in the Solve the problem section of the worksheet.

Teacher:    What is the answer and label to the question How many flowers does she have in all?

Student 7:  The answer is 9.

Teacher:    You are right, but what is the 9 talking about?  What is the full answer and label?

Student 7:  There are 9 flowers.

Teacher:    The answer and label is 9 flowers.  (I write Answer and Label with a line and then write 9 flowers on the line in the Answer and label section.)

Word Problem of the Day:

The reason why you spent your entire math lesson on your first day of school is so that you can now have your students try to do a new Word Problem of the Day as soon as they enter your classroom the following morning.  Display a new Word Problem of the Day in the room.  While you are collecting homework and taking attendance, all of your students can then be copying the new Word Problem of the Day on the second blank word problem worksheet packet that you had stapled together with yesterday’s Word Problem of the Day.

You will then go over the new Word Problem of the Days right before each of your directed math lessons.  The class discussion that teaches the process of understanding the concept of the math computation will take less time as students become familiar with the 5 steps to solve the word problem.  An added bonus to teaching the Word Problem of the Day is that it will be a constant review of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division long after you have completed that unit.

Not all of your students will be able to do the Word Problem of the Day in the early days of the school year.  However, if you teach the word problems every day, you will soon see more students understand how to understand the concept of the math word problem after a few days…weeks…months…and sure enough, by the time you have your state standardized tests, ALL of my students will be able to succeed…

Look at your last year’s state testing data.  Do you really want those same results or do you want to do something different to move your students to a higher level of understanding of the Common Core Math Standards this year?

Save time and never have to write another Word Problem of the Day on the board again:

To save you time, may want to purchase Word Problem of the Day - 200 Word Problems at https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Word-Problem-of-the-Day-200-Word-Problems-Charts-44557 so that you will have 200 word problems for the entire school year.

You may also want to buy the Word Problem of the Day - 200 Letter & Legal Sized Charts that contain the same word problems, but you may print the charts to display the Word Problem of the Day in your classroom or enlarge the copies of the charts to 11” X 17” Ledger-size at https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Word-Problem-of-the-Day-200-Letter-Legal-Sized-Charts-70666.

I will be creating a new version of these same 200 word problems so that the word problem is already written on the top of the worksheet.  The digital version of the 200 word problems will enable teachers to save on printing costs.

I hope to eventually create my "How to Teach Word Problems" video that will show teachers all of my math strategies that I use to help students solve story problems.

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Vicky taught me that it is never too early in the school year to teach word problems.  The more my students are exposed to daily word problems, the stronger their math skills.  When it’s time to introduce a new concept, they already know it’s coming!

-Maria A. McCarty

The step-by-step instruction to solve a word problem is so helpful for my struggling students.

-Ruby Kim

I will never teach word problems the “old” way again.

-Kelley L. MacNeil

Finally, a way to teach them how to solve word problems and understand them too!

-Jennifer Timmons

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