Teaching word problems can be a daunting task, but with these quick tips, you will be able to teach word problems to your students.
Before we start, I want to say that students don’t master word problems within a unit. Mastery of word problems takes several years and lots of practice. You should be practicing word problems all year long.
Order of Teaching Word Problems
When teaching word problems for the first time, I suggest going in this order:
- Introduction Lesson
- One Step Problems
- Teaching a Plan on how to Solve
- Two-Step Problems
- Writing their Own
- Practice, practice, practice
Word Problems Introduction Lesson
- This introduction is more of a “see what your kids know” lesson. First, I leave a blank anchor chart that allows students to brainstorm all the strategies that they can use to solve word problems. Give them several minutes to do this. Then, do practice problems on the board together trying different strategies from the list.
- “Move it” word problems. Students will get with a partner and solve the first word problem together. Then, you shout MOVE IT and they have one minute to move around the room. When the minute is up they need to be with a new partner solving the next problem. This continues until the sheet is done.
Word Problems in Stations
I highly recommend teaching word problems in stations instead of whole group. This way you can really make sure that each student fully understands them.
My stations look like this…
M: Digital Practice: Students are playing games and practicing word problems digitally
A: At your Seat: Here is where students are doing a worksheet to practice word problems
T: Teacher Time: This is where you are teaching them the topic of that day
H: Hands-On: Let thDo youo yoem play a game with their friends to practice word problems (easy tip: get out any board game and word problem task cards. In order to move on the board game they must first answer the task card)
Strategies for Teaching Word Problems
Word problems can be TOUGH for some students. I like to give them a few strategies so that they can choose which one works best for them.
- Using keywords- I like to introduce the keywords, but not focus too much on them because they can be tricky. It is great for students to understand them though.
- Drawing Pictures- Visuals help so many students, so letting them draw is great.
- Getting rid of unwanted information- I always start by telling students to get rid of anything they don’t need.
- Understanding the Question- Before they even begin solving I make them state what the final question is they are solving for.
- Using Manipulatives- If they can make it in front of them it really helps! Allowing them to always have access to manipulatives is essential!
Digital Word Problems
Here are links to different ways to practice word problems digitally!
Word Problems Freebie
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