Step 1: Understand the problem. Step 2: Devise a plan (translate). Step 3: Carry out the plan (solve). Step 4: Look back (check and interpret).
We have 4 ways of solving one-step equations: Adding, Substracting, multiplication and division. If we add the same number to both sides of an equation, both sides will remain equal. If we subtract the same number from both sides of an equation, both sides will remain equal.
Word problems commonly include mathematical modelling questions, where data and information about a certain system is given and a student is required to develop a model. For example: Jane had $5.00, then spent $2.00. How much does she have now?
One of the biggest reasons why some students struggle with word problems is because they aren’t just regular math problems – they involve reading! And more than that, students have to be able to fully comprehend what is happening in the problem in order to figure out how to solve it.
The best way to determine what operations you will need to introduce to the values that are presented in the problem is to read the problem carefully and look for words that indicate what is being asked of you. There are many different types of words and phrases that will indicate a certain operation.
Do unto one side of the equation, what you do to the other!
If we put something on, or take something off of one side, the scale (or equation) is unbalanced. When solving math equations, we must always keep the ‘scale’ (or equation) balanced so that both sides are ALWAYS equal.
|+||Addition, Add, Sum, Plus, Increase, Total|
|−||Subtraction, Subtract, Minus, Less, Difference, Decrease, Take Away, Deduct|
|×||Multiplication, Multiply, Product, By, Times, Lots Of|
|÷||Division, Divide, Quotient, Goes Into, How Many Times|
I was at a conference over 10 years ago and heard a presenter say, “Problem-solving is what you do when you don’t know how to solve a problem”. Solving problems, like the typical word problems found in our texts, on the other hand, is applying a known method to a problem that has already been solved before.
After years of gathering this anecdotal evidence, I have come up with three basic reasons that students avoid, dislike, or fear word problems: The Battle of the Left and Right Brain, The Language Barrier and The Lack of a Plan. Most students are dominant on one side of the brain.
The word problems need to be solvable.
The problems don’t need to be overly complicated; a simple problem that requires critical thinking will do the trick. Many standardized tests will create tricky verbiage when giving word problems and claim that this makes the problem harder to solve.
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