Word Problems

Aloha friends!  It is Sunday morning and I was rudely awakened by happy birds outside my window!  It seriously sounds like a Jungle out there! (It kind of looks like one too;)

I have Monday and Tuesday off, then back to work on Wednesday and Thursday, and off again on Friday.  Do you have crazy weeks like this in your district?  Ever since we started Furlough days the schedule just seems so silly sometimes!

Since we are heading into the 4th quarter I would love to share a little item that I have been working on.

My kids really need a lot more practice with word problems to gear up for the third grade.  I know our state assessment is basically all word problems.

My high level math kids are really great at solving them, but I still have so many that just don't know how to get started to solve a problem.  We have gone over steps again and again:

1.  Read The Problem
2.  Underline the Question
3.  Find the Key Words
4.  Draw A Picture
5.  Write a Number Model
6.  Solve the problem 

For some kids those are way too many steps to remember, especially my little guys who have trouble just reading the problem.

So I came up with some word problems and formatted it into a graphic organizer to help my students focus on the question and all of these steps.

Without having to look at our class chart or refer to their math journals, everything they need to do is right on here.  

Most students remember to underline the question and that's about as far as they get.  Having them search for and write the key words will start them thinking and hopefully head them in the right direction.

Making them draw a picture will help those visual learners to connect what is happening in the story.

I tell my students that the number model should match the picture.  Is it showing addition or is it showing subtraction?  

I have many students who just look at the numbers and add them up EVERYTIME!

Once they have an answer they need to process what they did.

Have you noticed that your quickest problem solvers have the hardest time explaining how they got their answer?

They always write "I just knew it".

Common Core is pushing for students to use a variety of strategies to solve problems and also to have students be able to explain how they found their answer. 

This is just a sample of what you might get from a student.  With this format you can easily see if the student gets it, or really has no idea.  Sometimes they have the wrong answer, but their thinking was spot on.

Other times they have the correct answer, but have no idea how they got it. (Usually a friend told them).

I think this format will really slow some of my students down and make them think a little deeper as to how and why they got their answer. With daily practice I am hoping that their problem solving skills will improve and that this process becomes second nature.

I created these word problems so that students would practice a variety of skills.  They include 1 and 2 step word problems and cover 4 different Common Core standards.

Each page has two different word problems. These can easily be copied and placed in a binder, cut in half and made into a little booklet for the month, or glued into their math journals.  

These are on sale today in my TpT store.

If you like this format you can use this  freebie template  with your own kiddos. Just click on the picture to download from Google Docs.

How do you teach word problems?  Do you have anchor charts or posters? Do your students write out the steps?  I would love to hear about what you do in your class.


  1. oooh.... word problems....the worst part about math - ha!! these look great, I'm gonna go check them out!
    The Teacher’s Cauldron

  2. In the past I have used anchor charts, I even had a whole bulletin board devoted to key words to help decide the operation and solve problems. I love these because all the steps are right on the page , magic !! My favourite kid quote is " I know because I know it".....well it actually drives me crazy, they say it all the time !

  3. Thanks Miss Corinna! I grabbed the freebie template. I think that works very smoothly. You're just a great big ol' peach for sharing this with us.
    Second In Line

  4. Our math test always has one problem where you have to explain how you solved the problem. If I read, "I thought about the problem and then I got the answer" I will scream! GOing to try your template...thanks for sharing!

  5. Thank you for sharing your fantastic graphic organizer! I agree that the steps to problem solving sometimes are a problem all their own:) Your GO will make it easy for students to deconstruct a problem!

  6. This pack looks great, Corinna! We do something similar as part of a school wide homework assignment. Sadly, there isn't much tie in inside the classroom, but there should be! I just added this to my wishlist! Thank you for sharing!


    1. Thanks so much Aimee! I really do hope it is helpful :)

  7. I like that our math book is consumable so we do a lot of writing and underlining right in the book. Problem solving is so important to higher level thinking. I think our book does a good job asking the kids to explain their answers in writing. They still have a really hard time with it. Love the freebie. Thanks!
    Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

    1. We have Go Math Gina and it does touch on it, but I really want my kids to have more exposure before they head to 3rd :)

  8. Thank you so much!! This is exactly what some of my kiddos are needing :-)


Mahalo Nui Loa For Commenting!!

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