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Start by using problems that have similar stories and numbers, but different problem structures.
When I was in elementary school, this was actually a pretty reliable strategy!
But today, kids are asked to solve much more complex problems, often with tricky wording or intentional distractors.
Thirteen students are still struggling with basic math facts and 3 have trouble reading the word problems at all. Issue #2: Flexible Thinking Many kids are taught to solve word problems methodically, with a prescriptive step-by-step plan using key words that don’t always work.
Plans are great, but not when students use them as a crutch rather than a tool.
The solution is to conquer math word problems with engaging classroom strategies that counteract the above issues! Teach a Problem-Solving Routine Kids (and adults) are notoriously impulsive problem solvers.
Many students see a word problem and want to immediately snatch out those numbers and “do something” with them.
Here’s an example showing student work on two similar problems about monkeys.
Click here to download a blank copy of these problems.
In the case of word problems, you have to go slow to go fast.
Just like in Guided Reading, you’ll want to give lots of practice with “just-right” problems and provide guided practice with problems just-above the students’ level.