Friday, June 5, 2015

Background Information Students Need to Know to In Order to Solve Word Problems

What do students need to know in order to effectively solve word problems?  This blog post will provide helpful tips and strategies.

Understanding the Parts of a Word Problem

Some students get lost in all of the information.  Drawing a chart can be helpful.

STEP 1:  Draw a chart to represent the information.

Background Knowledge that is Needed in Order to Solve this Problem:
1.  Be able to translate percentages into decimals.
2.  Identify key words and their meanings. More than requires a problem solver to add (20 +2).

(Special note:  Having students practice these two things before they begin percentage and decimal word problems is very helpful.)

STEP 2:  Add the two amounts.  Dawn has 22 books.

Sometimes a word problem gives vague information.  What I mean is the specific amount of objects is not known to the reader.  Look at the next example to see what is meant.

This problem does not give information about the exact number of books that Mary has. One of the main goals is to help students understand how to write an equation that can be used in order to find the answer.

Background Knowledge that is Needed in Order to Solve this Problem:
1.  Know that a variable can be used to represent an unknown number.
2.  Any variable can be used.
3.  Be able to translate percentages into decimals.

Why is Knowing How to Solve this Type of Word Problem Important?
1.  A word problem that provides vague information like this one helps to determine whether or not students truly understand math concepts and whether or not students know when to apply them.
2.  This understanding also sets the stage for Algebra 1 in the later school years as well as ACT and SAT preparation.  I notice "theoretical" word problems like these on ACT and SAT tests.  It reinforces why this understanding is so important at the elementary and middle school grade levels.

Solution:  Dawn has 1.1x books.

1 comment:

1. Hello! I like your blog and teaching ideas! You also have great ideas on pinterest and I was wondering if I could collaborate on your teaching boards? I am a teacher/homeschooler. Thanks so much, https://www.pinterest.com/mel17ann/