## Wednesday, March 18, 2015

### How to Solve Multi-Step Word Problems

Word problems seem to be one of those types of things that some students "get" and others do not.  Even the students that can correctly solve a word problem at times seem to be unsure how they did it.

This blog post is dedicated to word problems and provides helpful strategies for helping students solve them.

Students often get lost in all of the words of a word problem and are unsure what they need to find first.

I like to begin with word problem frames. They are simple pieces of paper that show addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.  We then start at the end of the problem to figure out what the math problem is asking a person to find out.

Example
Emma had 223 buttons for an art craft.  Kate had 75 fewer buttons than Emma.  How many buttons did they have altogether?

Explanation
Step 1
The addition frame could be used to mentally organize what the word problem is asking.  It looks like this.

_____ + _____ = ______

Kate's buttons + Emma's buttons = Total

I first take out the frames and ask students which one fits what is being asked at the end of question.  After a few math lessons, many students can identify the last operation that must be done to actually solve the problem. In this case it is addition.

Step 2
I ask students to plug in the known information.  It looks like this.

23 + ___ = ___

The students are able to determine that we know how many buttons Emma has, but in order to solve the problem, we must determine how many buttons Kate has.

Step 3
The word problem does not directly state the exact number of buttons that Kate has. Instead, it provides clues.  The number 75 indicates how many fewer buttons Kate has than Kate.

This is often a sticky point.  Many students will often jump in and incorrectly state that Kate has 75 buttons.  We then look at the word fewer. The context of how it is used in this sentence shows that 75 must be taken away from 223 in order to determine the amount of buttons that Kate has.  223-75= 148

Step 4
I point each student's attention again to the word problem frame.  I then ask, do we have enough information to solve the problem? The students then add Kate and Emma's buttons to answer the question.

223 + 148 = 371

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These are great for RTI, Math Review, Common Core and Test Prep

Guided Math

The document includes:
*game cards
*a progress recording form
*a printable box

This document includes:
*One-step addition and subtraction word problems with smaller numbers
*A printable storage box
*A student recording sheet
*A progress chart

This document includes:
*One-step addition and subtraction word problems with larger numbers
*A printable storage box
*A student recording sheet
*A progress chart

This document includes:
*Two-step addition and subtraction word problems with larger numbers
*A printable storage box
*A student recording sheet
*A progress chart

Fractions