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Annotate Math Word Problems


Mathematics All Ages Strategy


Flexible Thinking Working Memory Abstract Reasoning

Annotate Math Word Problems

If your student feels quickly overwhelmed or struggles how to get started on math word problems

Instruction And Practice

  1. Objective: Teach students a structured approach to break down word problems step-by-step so they can work through the problem methodically without getting caught up in the words.
  2. Direct Instruction: Discuss the objective for breaking down word problems using a structured approach. As a class, work through several examples using the following steps: a) Read through the entire problem once through. b) Ask: What is this problem about? Re-state the problem in your own words. c) Read the problem again, and draw a model to help students visualize and highlight important information in the problem. d) Guesstimate what the answer should be to determine what operation(s) to use, write an equation, and solve. e) After solving, check to see if the answer makes sense and what format the answer should be in.
  3. Teacher Notes: Model how to guesstimate the answer. Ask questions such as: Will the answer be bigger or smaller than the numbers in the problem? What operation make sense? If a student is stuck, substitute the numbers in the problem with easy numbers to help simplify the problem.

*students* Checklist For Breaking Down Word Problems:

  1. Read the problem twice. Mark up the question to highlight important information and/or draw a visual model
  2. Estimate an answer before solving (to confirm after that my final answer is reasonable)
  3. Write the equation and write out all my steps and calculations
  4. Re-read the problem. Did I find what it asked? Is my answer close to my original estimate?
  5. Check my answer using a different method

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

All the numbers and words in a math problem can make it difficult to think clearly and understand what question you are trying to solve. Having a structured approach can reduce stress and reduce the load on working memory while enabling students to know how to proceed and work methodically through the problem.