|Be sure students are comfortable with one-step
word problems (problems requiring only one operation) before
working with multi-step word problems (problems with multiple
components and operations).
||Focus specifically on the information provided
in word problems. Have students separate the necessary information
(numbers, labels, etc. needed to solve the problem) from the
extra information (numbers, labels, and other details not needed
for the solution).
||Teach students to read for meaning, rather
than searching for key words, when trying to identify the operation
to use for a math word problem. For example, a student who can
read a problem and restate it in his own words to help him realize
that he’s been asked to combine amounts or add, will have
a deeper understanding than a student who looks only for a key
word or phrase in the sentence (e.g., ‘total’, ‘how
many’, etc.) to indicate what operation to use.
||Have students create new story problems, and
reword existing problems in such a way that essential information
remains the same, but is worded differently. Also, have students
alter important information in a problem and talk about how
the problem has been changed.
||Ask students to help you come up with topic
ideas for word problems, e.g., situations related to sports,
popular music groups or performers, your own school, etc. Students
are more likely to be interested in topics that have relevance
to their lives.
||Have students paraphrase word problems for
each other. Create partner pairs where one student reads a word
problem silently, then provides the necessary information to
his partner so the partner can do the solution.
||Have students compare textbook word
problems to real life situations. For example, a textbook math
problem may read " Jill bought three CDs at $14.99 each.
How much did she spend‘" In a real life situation, students
would want to consider other factors, such as sales tax, customer