This revolutionized my thinking about how I was teaching word problems. It was so interesting to watch how children were solving problems and to see what was going on in their heads.You can read all about how I teach math word problems and pick up a freebie of the word problems I use in my classroom in a previous blog post.
Many of the fraction situations I don’t introduce until later on in the year once we start fractions.
Speaking of fractions, when we really start digging into multiplication and division of fractions, I always have to revisit the idea of using situations to help solve word problems versus key words.
When I set up students to understand the context of a problem. I emphasize that students are looking for the action of a problem and an unknown. Some students may actually subtract for the last two problem types, but I’d bet that most of my students would count up from the start for the JCU problem. Number lines are one of the best tools I have found for teaching word problems. (Again, change out more for fewer)In all the examples above, can you pick out which keywords were used? Another good book on the top is John Van De Walle’s Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics (affiliate).
When students can identify the action of the problem (which is the operation) and the unknown (what they are solving for) they are set for success. SCU (Separate Change Unknown) There were ___ kids on the playground. Students can physically act out the math on a large number line or draw their own open number lines for larger numbers. Manipulatives are a great resource for part-part-whole problems. RU There are ___ more boys than girls on the playground. There are several books, some for K-2 and some for 3-5.
Each of the word problems use the word However, the word problems each require a different operation.
Keywords For Solving Word Problems Marketing Dissertations
When discussing the word problems, we always have a big discussion about how each of the word problems uses total but they are not all adding or even multiplying.
SRU (Separate Result Unknown) There were ___ kids on the playground. WU There are ___ boys on the playground and ___ girls on the playground. BAU (this is possible combinations, which is not often taught) There are ___ kids on the playground. As students begin to understand that one color of an object represents one part and another color another part, they can see how the parts come together and get broken apart. It’s the same type of problem but gives students a chance to practice different vocabulary. If you’re a second and third-grade teacher I highly recommend checking out both books because you have kiddos that will spend the grad levels.
How many could be boys and how many could be girls? Compare problems are the most difficult for students as it is all about comparing the relationship of the numbers. DU There are ___ boys and ___ girls on the playground. CQU There are __ more boys than girls on the playground.
When I first started teaching, I used to display lists of keywords that students could use to solve word problems. Give students something to look for when reading word problems to know when to add, subtract, multiply or divide. I learned that students should be taught how to understand the context of a word problem not to look for keywords.
Five years later, I learned about problems types and got deep into the work of Children’s Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction (affiliate).