Saturday, January 17, 2015

Word Problems: What's Your First Move?

Word problems...

Don't we LOVE them?! ...psych!

I realized this year that my students are having trouble with word problems....wait..let me elaborate. They are doing well with word problems with each section that I teach: adding decimals, dividing whole numbers, etc. However, I realized that the students knew what to do because they used their common sense - "If we are learning dividing decimals right now, then on our test, I will need to divide when I come across a word problem." 

Hm....What about when my students are faced with their standardized test and they will need to figure out which basic operation they will have to use for each word problem on their own? What will happen then? 
This thought is what inspired my most recent creation...

In day one...

...students will not focus on solving word problems, but instead they will work on figuring out which basic operation they need to use in order to move onto solving the problem. In other words, what will our first step be if we were to solve the problem?

Below is a pair of my students working on this activity. They are reading the 20 cards and then placing them in the addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division section depending on what their first step will be when solving the problem. 

On day two...

...students will use any of the five printable worksheets given, OR the task cards used in day one, to solve the word problems we read on the first day. Now, they need to read the word problem, check off which basic operation they will use, and then solve it. An example of the printable worksheet is seen below.

On day three...

...students will be introduced to two-step word problems. These word problems require two steps, or two different basic operations, to solve. Students will need to recognize these, the steps they will use to solve it, and the order in which they need to solve it. A sample of the task cards for day three are shown below.

On day four...

...students will not only recognize the two step word problems, but they will solve them. The printable worksheet requires them to solve their problem in different boxes in order to have the students organize their steps. This will really help you, as their teacher, find where their mistakes or misconceptions are, if any. 

On day five... will assess your students! Yay! Find out how they are doing now that they have practiced word problems. The assessment mixes up the word problems so that they are using different basic operations each time they solve, and in no particular order. This also mixes one and two step word problems. 

Extension activity:

Students can create their own word problem...alone, with a partner, or with a group! They will use the page you see below to set up their work, and then they will create a poster! :) This is one of my favorite projects! 

Here is the link if you would like to see more about this packet! 

Thanks for joining today :)

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