Multiple Step Story Problems

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Students will be able to determine a set of known and unknown information in word problems in order to accurately solve in a journal entry.

Big Idea

Multi-step word problems are always tricky at first. Learning to break them down into parts and model the known information are important to the process of becoming proficient solvers.


10 minutes

I place a multiple step word problem on the board:

Ms. Marcus needs to collect $610.00 for the bat house project.  The PTA is willing to donate $300.00 towards the project.  She has 5 people that are interested in donating as well.  How much should Ms. Marcus ask each of them to donate, so that their donations are equal?  Explain your thinking. 

As a class, we make a T-Chart of what we already know, what we can find easily, and what we need to work more deeply on.  Our chart looks like the one in the resource section.

Using this organizer, I ask students to work with their partner on whiteboards at the community center to solve.

We then share out strategies and ways of showing work.  Then the students are asked to pick from a "deck" of word problems, found on the K-5 Math Teaching Resources website, glue them into their journals, and begin solving.

Active Engagement

30 minutes

As this student is working, I ask her to defend her drawings and her math.  While doing so, we locate an error and she now is able to quickly identify what went wrong and how to solve it. 

The student in this video did a wonderful job working through the math and finding the correct answer. My work with her focuses on precisely communicating what she is thinking and what she is doing to solve her problems.

While working with the child, I am able to discuss with him how he uses key words to define his strategy. 

Sharing and Closing

10 minutes

During our closing, students trade journals and discuss each other's journal entries (MP3).  I do this often, as it is one other way to have the students communicate with each other, mentor one another, and revise thinking. 

During our share, the student from the second video above came to me asking if she could please share her revisions with the whole class because she "worked really had to make it make sense" and wants feedback from the class. 

At that point, I know I have a community of learners and a student that is making great strides towards precision.