UPSC - Graphic Organizer for Solving Word Problems

Grade Levels
7th - 11th
Formats Included
  • PDF
8 pages
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To best understand how this UPSC (Understand, Plan, Solve, Check) graphic organizer supports students' understanding of word problems, visit:

For those of you familiar with Cue Think, this resource is almost a paper version of the process.

The acronym stands for the following:

Understand: Asks students to identify the question and information given

Plan: Students set up their solving process (i.e. - defining operations & variables)

Solve: Students estimate, write an equation, and solve it.

Check: Students write a sentence to interpret their work.

This set of UPSC questions is geared toward the beginning of the year in Math 7/ Math 8/ Algebra 1, especially for students who struggle with vocabulary and structure.

Click on the hyperlink for the a DIGITAL version of this resource. I will also be creating a 2nd version of UPSC geared toward writing and solving linear equations.

To access Digital Vocabulary Practice that helps prepare students for decoding word problems, visit the following TPT resources:

Thanks for choosing this resource! It has done wonders for my high school Algebra 1 students (gen ed, ESOL, and special ed) - the year we implemented it our state scores improved immensely. I also chose to use this as a data checkpoint for my teacher evaluation, and 95% of my ESOL students were successful with implementation by the end of the year.

Total Pages
8 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. Mathematically proficient students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. They analyze givens, constraints, relationships, and goals. They make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution. They monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary. Older students might, depending on the context of the problem, transform algebraic expressions or change the viewing window on their graphing calculator to get the information they need. Mathematically proficient students can explain correspondences between equations, verbal descriptions, tables, and graphs or draw diagrams of important features and relationships, graph data, and search for regularity or trends. Younger students might rely on using concrete objects or pictures to help conceptualize and solve a problem. Mathematically proficient students check their answers to problems using a different method, and they continually ask themselves, "Does this make sense?" They can understand the approaches of others to solving complex problems and identify correspondences between different approaches.
Model with mathematics. Mathematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. In early grades, this might be as simple as writing an addition equation to describe a situation. In middle grades, a student might apply proportional reasoning to plan a school event or analyze a problem in the community. By high school, a student might use geometry to solve a design problem or use a function to describe how one quantity of interest depends on another. Mathematically proficient students who can apply what they know are comfortable making assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later. They are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions. They routinely interpret their mathematical results in the context of the situation and reflect on whether the results make sense, possibly improving the model if it has not served its purpose.


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