More Word Problems


1. Two More Fun Warm-ups Reviewing Word Problems

We have seen our 8th graders struggle with algebra problems that involve “the number of bills” and the “value of those bills”. They can write x + y = 27 if there are 27 five and 10 dollar bills altogether, but stumble over the value equation:  10x + 5y = 210 when told that the 27 bills add to a value of $210.

So we decided to try to start such distinctions earlier – 5th and 6th grade. Here are 2 Power-Point Warm-Ups that help students begin to make this journey.  As always, use manipualtives (we used Cuisenaire rods and Monopoly money, but any blocks will do) and give them time.

Word Problem- Money

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Asilomar Presentation

If you were at the CMC conference in Asilomar today, I (Kathleen) promised to post the Power Point slides from the talk “Making Sense of Word Problems”.

Feel free to use or edit as you like. (I fixed the typos!)


Teaching Long Division So It Makes Sense

Long division is perhaps as difficult for a 4th or 5th grader as Calculus is for a high school senior. The multiple steps are so complex that they need to be drilled until they often lose all meaning for a child. Cute mnemonics and hours of drill might result in a procedural competency for many students (unfortunately not for all), but they do not build number sense, estimation skills, mental math or mastery in solving word problems.

We’ve all heard of the benefits of the curricular approach “CONCRETE > PICTORIAL> ABSTRACT” (C>P>A) — what does that look like in our classrooms, and what does it look like for long division?

Truth #1:  Children learn best using the C>P>A approach

We’ve seen this internationally, (the highest ranking countries use it) and we’ve seen it in our own classrooms. We use it because it works.

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