The Multiple Step Problem Solving Pack is a collection of 10 real-life (but totally school-related) problems. Each problem includes multiple steps and operations, emphasizes critical thinking skills, and solving for unknowns. They are well-suited for bar models. These problems also push students to apply not only their knowledge of computation algorithms, but their also their awareness of efficient strategies.
I created these problems for use at the end of our Mixed Operations unit. I had some very capable third graders who were whizzing right through typical operations problems. These problems were quite the push for them. I had a small group working on one problem, and they spent one class period reading through it, sharing their strategies, working the problem, self-checking, and then helping one another analyze their problems. In the end, some of them were comfortable and motivated by the challenge presented in this level of problem solving. Others were pushed beyond their frustration level due to the level of critical thinking required to approach these problems confidently. Having said that, students who work on these problems must be able to independently solve multi-digit problems for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I have used it with third and fourth grade, and think it could be used with some fifth graders, as well.
Included in this download are the ten problems, an individual work page for each problem, as well as an answer key. However, I should be clear and say that in our classroom, it isn’t enough to simply write your answer. We emphasize showing their thinking. That is, demonstrating by the work they do on the page that they know their solution is correct. Organization and neat work become very important as a result!
I really enjoyed using these problems in the small group setting. I observed kids working on one problem for more than one class period, and they did a phenomenal job expressing their mathematical thinking. I would also use these problems for independent work, a problem solving station, task cards, math choice, brain stretcher, or enrichment for confident problem solvers!