Strategies for Solving Math Word Problems

Depending on the grade level of your student or child, a math word problem may involve simple addition to complex rate problems, and everything in between. This week’s blog will explore as many different resources as possible to support word problems in a comprehensive way.

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We will begin with several instructional strategies that are relevant for any content area:

  1. Chunking
  2. Graphic Organizers
  3. Steps of the Process
  4. Visual Guides
  5. Models of Correct Work
  6. Video Modeling
  7. Incorporate Interests
  8. Technology
  9. Pneumonic Devices
  10. Preview Learning

The first website that I offer is http://www.brightstorm.com/math/. This site has video demonstrations of just about every type of math problem in algebra, geometry, algebra 2, trigonometry, precalculus and calculus. You can also enter your own problem and get a solution. For $4.99 a month, you can get an interactive online tool that will show you the steps to solving any math problem you enter.

Example: Word Problems Using Systems of Equations

Word Problems Using Systems of Equations helps students learn methods for solving word problems that call for one to solve for more than one variable, and teaches through examples involving mixtures, rate, work, coins, age, digit sums, percentages, and more. Topics include:

  1. Mixture Problems
  2. Rate Word Problems
  3. Work Word Problems
  4. Coin Word Problems
  5. Age Word Problems
  6. Sum of Digits
  7. Percent Concentrations
  8. Selling Multiple Items

There is quite an extensive library of PowerPoint presentations provided at the following website: http://www.lexington1.net/technology/?page=instruct/powerpoint.htm. One such PowerPoint highlights the steps and sub-steps to solving problems. The following is an excerpt:

Step 1 – Understand the problem

  • Read the problem carefully.
  • Find the important information.
  • Write down the numbers.
  • Identify what the problem wants you to solve.
  • Ask if your answer is going to be a larger or smaller number compared to what you already know.

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Go to http://www.lexington1.net/technology/?page=instruct/powerpoint.htm for the rest of the PowerPoint.

I also recommend the following website for a comprehensive approach to math word problems:  https://autismsocietyofnc.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/math-word-problems-taking-tests/. Through the use of visual cues [highlighters, boxes], translation words, and social stories, a parent has helped make a plan for success.

The following website has an extensive library of math resources to capitalize on strengths and interests related to computers: http://mdusdautism.weebly.com/math-websites.html.

TeachersPayTeachers also has many graphic organizers and visual supports for solving word problems. Of course, some are available at a cost and others are free. The following is an example of a free graphic organizer:

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If you have a wonderful tool or strategy for solving word problems, please share!

By Lisa Rogers

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The Education (K-12) Blogs and Special Ed Q & A are written and maintained weekly by Lisa Rogers with Educating Diverse Learners. Lisa received her M.A. in Special Education with an endorsement in the area of individuals with severe disabilities. Mrs. Rogers has also created products that have been used throughout the state of Texas for training purposes. Through the Association for Texas Professional Educators [ATPE], Ms. Rogers has produced an online course that targets the importance of visual strategies for student with autism spectrum disorders and just released her highly anticipated book titled: Visual Supports for Visual Thinkers.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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