Within this product, you will find three sections within a lesson I use to INTRODUCE word problems (I often end up breaking this work into two or more days, as there is a lot included!).
PLEASE NOTE: This lesson/activity does not require students to SOLVE the word problem; this initial lesson provides the foundation building strategies that help students MAKE SENSE of a word problem. If you've ever noticed your students simply adding whichever numbers together, this lesson is a great starting point for changing that habit. Learning strategies for making sense of a word problem before rushing to solve is SO important as students progress to more challenging word problems, such as those with missing addends or subtrahends. Read on to see what is included in the three sections of this product.
Section 1: “What’s A Word Problem?” – In this section you’ll find a series of ‘posters’ that I use in my own classroom when I begin to introduce the concept of word problems. I use the document camera to project each poster, first teaching students what makes a word problem different from a number sentence, normal sentence, or regular story. Then I show and read through each example/non-example poster that follows. Students discuss if it is/is not a word problem and tell why. If students are unsure, I refer back to the checklist on the poster titled ‘Is it a word problem?” This poster helps to break down the specific components of a word problem so that students can then lead themselves to an accurate conclusion. There is also a blank page so that you may print and write your own example(s)/non-example(s) if more practice becomes necessary. I have also included math vocabulary words, which I post on my math vocabulary wall.
Section 2: “What Do We Know About This Word Problem?” – In this section you’ll find a poster with sentence stems to help students tell what they know from the word problem, and what the word problem asks them to find out. You’ll also find three word problems (with pictures) and those same sentence stems to complete as class practice.
Section 3: “What Do I Know About These Word Problems?” – In this section you’ll find 4 word problems, with pictures (the first word problem will be the same as the one completed during the class practice, to help provide a scaffolded release to independent practice). Like the class practice sheets, these word problem sheets also require students to complete the sentences about what the word problem tells them and what the word problem wants them to find out.
If you’re thinking this seems like too much writing for your students – not to worry! The purpose of this is to get students talking and thinking about what they know from word problems, rather than setting up a norm of jumping straight to a solution (which often causes students to just add whichever two numbers together – we want to prevent students from developing that habit!) So, if you’re feeling like it’s too much writing, keep in mind that some students will complete all independent practice sheets, while others may only complete one or two. You can also pair students so that the partnership can discuss before writing. Finally, for a few students, I scribe what they tell me.
Where to go from here? – Once students have spent time talking, thinking, and writing about what a word problem tells them and wants them to find out, we soon transition to a much less tedious way of recording what we know and want to know with something we call a ‘situation equation.’ A situation equation is a number sentence with a box to show the part that the word problem wants you to find out.
For that lesson, or those that follow, please see my store or contact me.
However you use this ‘Introduction to Word Problems’ lesson/activity set, I genuinely hope that you find these materials helpful in your students’ exploration of word problems!
Happy Teaching & Happy Learning