Monday, February 3, 2014

How to Tackle a Word Problem

I hope everyone enjoyed Super Bowl Sunday!  Mine was filled with lots of sugary and salty snacks and a not so happy hubby.

Here are some steps to make sure tackling a word problem is not quite as painful as getting tackled by a football player!

Read the problem

Read through the problem completely without picking up your pencil.  Make sure you understand what the words mean.  If you don’t, ask a friend, teacher, tutor, or look it up.

Think about what is important

Look for numbers, number words, symbols, units of measurement, and key words.  Circle important numbers and/or variables (implicit or explicit), box keywords, and underline the question(s) that you have to answer.

Write out your known’s and unknown’s

This is the first part of showing your work and it also helps you start to solve your problem.  List all of the known and unknown measurements.  This is where you define any variables that you will be using in your equation.

Pick a strategy that helps you answer the question

Here is where you draw a picture, create a diagram, make a graph, write an equation, etc.  Depending on the difficulty of the problem, I may use between one and 3 different strategies!  My favorite two to use together is to draw a picture or diagram and then write an equation.

Solve your problem showing all steps. 

Your work needs to be extremely neat!!  Show each step vertically and make sure all work follows.  That means each step leads to the next.  Do your scratch work on a separate piece of paper unless your teacher tells you otherwise.  If you aren’t used to doing neat math, solve your problem on a rough draft first, then copy your final draft to your homework.

Write your answer in a complete sentence

Make sure your answer includes its units and that you include part of the question in your answer.


Tackling Word Problems handout and outline - FREE printable handout and outline.

Apple Equations - Printable handout and game to introduce students to solving 1-step equations and word problems.

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