Two Question Problems

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SWBAT take the answer to one question and answer a 2nd question.

Big Idea

Students will discover that sometimes the answer to one question is necessary to answer a second question.


5 minutes

In today's lesson, the students learn to take an answer from one question and use it to answer a second question.  This aligns with 4.OA.A3 because the students solve multistep word problems posed with whole numbers and having whole-number answers using the four operations.  I have the students think about the standard and write 1 thing they would be able to do if they were to master this skill.  The majority could not give me an answer.  This let's me know that we really need to work on this skill.

To get started, I ask the students a question.  Two people, Tom and Susie, are walking to school.  Tom walks 2 blocks to school.  If I want to know the total number of blocks that they both walk, what other information do I need?  I let the students think about the question.  Share your answer with your neighbor.  By having students talk to their neighbors it allows them to share their way of thinking, and it may help some students who do not know how to come up with the answer.  I take a few student responses.   One student replies, "You need to know how far Susie walked."  I let the student know that she is correct.  Today, we will learn to take the answer from one question, and use it to answer a second question. So in the scenario, if the first question would have been, "Susie walks to school every day.  She walks 1 block on the first street, then 3 blocks on the second street.  How many blocks does Susie walk to school?"  Would you have enough information to solve the problem? All students agreed that they would be able to find the total number of blocks Tom and Susie walked if this question would have come first.  

Whole Class Discussion

10 minutes

I call the students to the carpet to discuss the lesson.  The power point is already on the Smart board.  My students are encouraged to speak out and answer or ask questions during the whole class discussion.  

First, I begin by modeling how to solve the problem.

Question 1:  Mrs. Monroe has 25 students in her class.  If each student pays $3.00 for a field trip, how much money will they pay in all?

Answer:  _____


Question 2:  The price for the field trip is $50.00.  Mrs. Monroe will take the money left to buy lunch for the students.  How much money will be left to purchase lunch for the students? 
Answer:  _____


I like to model for my students in order to show them what mastery of the skill looks like, so I am showing my thinking on the board for these two problems.  Next, the students walk me through solving the second example.

Question 1:

The circus is coming to town!  There will be 3 elephants, 6 tigers, 4 camels, and 2 lions on stage at the circus.  How many animals will be on stage at the circus?

Answer:  ______

I ask the students what operation will be used to solve the problem.  One student responds, "It will be addition because they want to know the total number of animals."  I ask the students to quickly add the problem.  There are a total of 15 animals.  Let's go to quesiton number 2.

Question 2:

The circus will be in town for 5 days.   To make sure the animals are not too tired, only some of the animals will perform each day.  If the same number of animals perform each day, how many will perform each day?

 Answer:  _____

Again, I ask the students about the operation for the problem.  I ask if there are any clue words to let them know which operation to use.  I was proud of one student who quickly said "same number means to divide."  The students worked the problem by using 15 from the first problem to find the quotient of 3 for question number 2.

 From these examples, you can see that sometimes you need to answer one question, in order to answer a second question.  You will practice this skill more in groups with your classmates.

Group or Partner Activity

20 minutes

The students will work in groups on various activities. The students will be grouped according to my observation of their academic abilities.  For instance, I group students together that have shown their ability to solve problems by reasoning and also have shown excellent computation skills.


Group 1: Computer 

I will send 4 students to the computer to practice working multi-step word problems.  This will allow the students to practice the skill while making sense of the problem (MP1) and ensuring that all components are completed when solving the problem.  These 4 students have shown that they need guidance to solve problems.  The videos will help the students work through the word problems.


Math Playground


Group 2: Write their own 2 question problems. (Advanced group)

Students that I have identified as higher level students will compose their own 2 question problems.  Some of these questions will be used as "board work" the next day to give the students more practice on this skill. This aligns with MP2 because the students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations.


Group 3: Match the 2 question problems together (Average group)

In this group, the students will match the 2 question problems that are related and must be used in order to solve the problem.  I have typed out several Two Question Problems Group Activity and cut them apart.  The problems are put in a plastic bag.  In the group, the students must agree upon the problems that are related and should be matched in order to solve.  Then the students must solve the problems.


Group 4:  Real World Connection - Sales paper to find 2 question problems (Advanced group)

In this group, the students will use a sales paper to compose 2 question problems.  This is a high level skill because the students must compose questions that are related.  In this activity, the students pick 1 or 2 sales items to discuss in a word problem. With the items, the students write an addition, subtraction, division, or multiplication word problem.  Next, the students come up with another word problem that must utilize the answer from the first word problem.  For example, first word problem:  "I went to the store and purchased a radio for $25.00 and a package of batteries for $3.00. How much did I spend?"  Answer:  $28.00.   Second word problem:  "My sister purchased the same radio and 2 packages of the same batteries.  How much more did my sister spend than me?"  Answer:  $31.00 - $28.00 = $3.00.

Note:  In order to push our students to higher levels, students that may be considered average will benefit from participating in this advanced activity.


15 minutes

To close the lesson, I have one or two students share their answers.  This gives those students who still do not understand another opportunity to learn it.  I like to use my document camera to show the students' work during this time.  Some students do not understand what is being said, but understand clearly when the work is put up for them to see.

I feel that by closing each of my lessons by having students share their work is very important to the success of the lesson.  Students need to see good student samples (Student Work), as well as work that may have incorrect information.  More than one student may have had the same misconception. In the video, two students share their composition of a 2 question problem.   Each group is given the opportunity to share one solution.  I select a representative from each group.  One student on the computer shares what he/she has learned from the video, one student matching the two question problems share the questions that were matched together and the answer to the two questions, one student from the the advanced level group shares the questions and solutions for their problem (see video), and one student using the sales ad shares the word problems and solutions.  During the closing of the lesson, all misconceptions that were spotted during the group activity will be addressed whole class.  

Problems Identified in lesson:

What I noticed as I walked around the room and listened in on the groups was that some of the students had a hard time composing the 2 question problems.  I feel that this is because students have a hard time with high level thinking.  This is a skill that we must continue to work on this school year.  Over all, I was pleased with how the lesson unfolded.  Some students progressed by the end of the lesson.  We will continue working on composing our own word problems.