Strategies for Word Problems

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SWBAT use a problem solving strategy to solve a word problem.

Big Idea

My first graders have been working hard at learning to solve word problems. Today we are taking a moment to take notes and review what we have been doing to solve addition and subtraction word problems.

Rev Them Up

5 minutes

My students will need a brain break before we begin math today. They will have just finished a lengthy writing lesson and I want them going into math feeling a little less drained, so I am going to get them up and moving. They love dancing and singing and YouTube offers lots of videos for this opportunity. I will use Sid's Shuffle to get them up on their feet and moving for a little bit. 

Whole Group Interaction

10 minutes

I will make a 4 page flip book for each student. Here is how to make a flip book. I used a piece of copy paper and cut it in half to create them. I will give each student a flip book and state;

Guess what? Today you are officially college students! Raise your hand if you want to make a lot of money when you are grown up. (Every hand goes up.) Then guess what? you have to go to college. So, today we are practicing by reviewing something we know and taking notes.

We will begin by labeling the front cover and flaps.

Front cover: How to solve a word problem

Flaps: Using a drawing, Using objects, Using symbols

Taking notes is a skill used heavily in college and why not start early in the most simple way. My First Graders enjoy acting like they are older then their years and this "college" hook will engage them in the lesson. For each one of the flaps, they need to raise the cover page and illustrate an example for that flap label. My goal is for this flip book to help my students to remember there are different options to pick from to solve word problems. Watch the illustrating a problem video. I attempted to compare illustrating a word problem to producing a movie based on a book; its bringing it to life. The Common core standards want first graders to be taught to solve word problems through multiple strategies, such as using objects, drawings, and equations. (1.OA.A.1). This is necessary because we want them to have a "bag of tricks," to pick from to solve their word problems. If one strategy does not work, I want them to have others to lean on and not always see the solution in one format. Some methods fit certain word problems better than others. 

Independent Practice

10 minutes

I will have my students select 2 addition and 2 subtraction problems from this list at K-5 Math Resources. I will have them copied ahead of time and cut them apart. I will spread the out on a table and let them pick their own problems to solve. Each student will need a large piece of construction paper. Look at their hard work: Work pic 1Work Pic 2Work Pic 3


Students you can use any of the methods that we have discussed to solve your word problems. You will glue the problem onto your construction paper and then solve it. You have to show me some type of strategy. You cannot just write an answer.


5 minutes

I will ask my students to turn to their neighbor and tell him or her: What is your favorite method to solve a word problem and why?