Reflection: Gradual Release Verbal Models and Equations - Section 2: Guided Practice


Translating word problems into algebraic expressions and equations is a skill that I have noticed many students struggle to master each year. I have tried verbal models, foldable activities, acting out problems, and using graphic organizers to keep track of “operation clues”. Here’s what I have learned:

-          Stop teaching clue words! Many students cling to these and use them inappropriately. For example, “less than” can be used for the operations subtraction or for the comparing symbol (<)

-          It will take long, and it will be harder, but stick to the concepts and larger picture. Instead of asking “what operation?”, ask, “what is happening in this problem? What do they want to know? How can we find out? What information do we need? What information do we have?”

-          Back to visuals! As much as possible, have students draw a picture that represents the relationship between the quantities in the problem.

-          And last, but not least, teach it gradually, slowly, certainly not in ONE lesson! In past years I have introduced and taught one lesson in translating expressions/equations. Then I continue to spiral word problems throughout the year. This year I decided to spiral word problems at the beginning of this third unit that already included the equations needed to solve. Then, I slowly introduce translation topics. One day I broke down the type of word problems students might be asked to translate. These notes are included within this reflection.

I covered translating expression and equations over multiple lessons this year, tying it into as many introductory lessons as possible rather than isolating it as one lesson by itself. The multiply resources I used for these lessons are included.


  Gradual Release: More than One Lesson
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Verbal Models and Equations

Unit 3: Expressions and Equations - The Basics
Lesson 19 of 23

Objective: SWBAT write and solve equations to solve word problems by using verbal models.

Big Idea: Students work independently, in pairs, and in groups to identify unknowns, create verbal models, and translate equations to solve word problems.

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day 58 verbal models
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