Build your students’ proficiency with solving two-step word problems with this set of task cards, resource materials, and assessment activities. With this “print-and-go” resource, you’ll have everything you need to develop, strengthen, and assess your students’ problem solving skills.
NOTE: You can purchase Step to It! (Set B), the follow-up to this set, available here
. All of the materials in Set B are different from the materials in Set A.
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics addressed:
Operations and Algebraic Thinking (OA)
Solve problems involving the four operations, and identify and explain patterns in arithmetic.
• Solve two-step word problems using the four operations. (3.OA.8)
• reference sheet
• 32 task cards
• task card answer sheet and key
• 8 self-checking “answer cards”
• 4 assessment activities with answer key and rubrics
About the Cards
I designed these cards to help provide students with practice with reading and interpreting story problems that require two steps to solve. When I first had a chance to see some of the practice problems for the fourth grade PARCC test that my students have to take in my state, I noticed that virtually every word problem that the students had to solve had at least 3 steps, and some had as many as 5 or 6 steps! While such problems are in keeping with the fourth grade standards, which specify “multi-step problems”, they are challenging for many students in my grade, a great many of whom struggle with problems that have just one or two steps. I realized that if the students were not proficient with solving two-step problems, they wouldn’t be able to solve the problems on PARCC, SBAC, and other assessments that have 3, 4, or more steps.
These cards present story problems that require exactly two steps to solve, and those steps utilize all four operations. The numbers on the cards are all manageable, with most cards using only one-digit numbers or a combination of one-digit and two-digit numbers. Almost all multiplication required by the cards is limited to pairs of single-digit factors and any division results in whole number quotients, as specified in the third grade Common Core Standards for Mathematics. I decided to keep the numbers fairly low because I wanted the focus of the cards to be on the process of interpreting and solving the problems, rather than on the procedures of computing.
The cards progress in difficulty. The first sixteen cards present one-digit and two-digit numbers, with all of the numbers in the problems being necessary to find the solution. Cards 17-24 also use one-digit and two-digit numbers, but the problems on the cards have one piece of unnecessary information, requiring students to identify which numbers are needed as well as which operations to use. The problems on the final eight cards, cards 25-32, also present one piece of unnecessary information as well as use two-digit numbers that are multiples of 10. For some of these cards, students will need to multiply a single digit factor by the multiple of 10 (e.g., 3 x 70 or 8 x 60), addressing standard 3.NBT.3 – “multiply one-digit whole numbers by multiples of 10 in the range 10-90.”
The cards features simple graphics that will look great whether you print the cards out in color or in black & white!
Please check out the preview to see all of the materials up close!
Using the Cards
The progressive nature of the cards provides scaffolding so students can practice their problem solving skills in situations of gradually increasing complexity. They also allow you to differentiate for levels of need and ability in your classroom. You might have students at a beginning level of proficiency start with card 1 while student who already have demonstrated proficiency with two-step problems can start with card 17. Some students might do all the cards in the first half (1 – 16), others might only do the odd or even cards in the first half, and still others might only do the cards in the second half of the set (17-32). You could also use a “gradual release model” with the cards. Do cards 1 & 2 together as a class, have students work in pairs to complete cards 3 through 8, and then your kids can complete cards 9 through 16 on their own. Then repeat the process with cards 17-24 and 25-32.
There are lots of ways in which you can implement the task cards beyond the suggestions above. You can have the students work on them independently, working through the task cards on their own. The students can work on them in pairs or small groups, completing a given number of cards in one or more sessions. You can use them in centers, having the students complete 6-8 task cards a day over the course of the week. You can even use them as a variation of “problem of the day”, giving each student 1 sheet of 4 cards to glue in their journals and solve, one sheet per day for eight days.
Reinforcing and Assessing Understanding
You may choose to introduce or follow-up the cards with the included reference sheet. The reference sheet provides a set of steps for tacking story problems. Your students can use the journal insert as a guide while they work on the cards, as well as when they complete other tasks that relate to solving word problems.
The four provided activity sheets can be used to evaluate student understanding of interpreting and solving two-step word problems, as well as their ability to evaluate answers for reasonableness (another element of the 3.OA.8 standard). The pairs of worksheets are formatted similarly, and have similar types of questions, though the numbers on each are different. You can use these activity pages in a variety of ways. You could give one as a pre-test, then teach your lesson and allow students to practice with the task cards, and then give the second worksheet as an independent post-test. You could also have the students work on the task cards, then complete one of the worksheet as guided practice with yourself, a partner, or a small group, and then give the second worksheet as an independent assessment. The worksheets could also be given as homework, center assignments, or any other purpose that fits your teaching style or classroom routines. There is a key, as well as scoring guide and rubric, to help make grading as easy as possible.
For more resources to address concepts in the Operations & Algebraic Thinking domain, please check out the other related resources I have available –
Snow Bonds: +, –, x, and ÷ number relationships task cards & printables (set a)
Self-checking Math Riddles – Reasonableness of Sums/Differences
I hope your students enjoy these resources and are able to build their proficiency with problem solving.