Solving Math Story Problems

While key words are very important, they are only part of the process.Understanding the language in word problems is critical for all students. But because words are often used differently and problems are set up differently, there are some cautionary messages.Another good tool is to teach them to draw or model the problems. She is currently teaching 6th grade communication arts and math.

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The student may immediately make the conclusion that the answer is 16, but that is not what the problem is asking, and the child would be wrong. What research has found is that if we ask students to only rely on knowing that certain key words signal specific operations, we can actually lead them away from trying to understand the problems. "The difference is between knowing the meaning of the words "fewer than" and using "fewer than" as a key to an operation.

They will tend to look only for those words and whatever numbers are in the problem, even if they are not relevant to the answer. We want students to know the meaning of the words, but also to see them in the context of the whole problem.

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