Do your students struggle with word problems? After many experiences of watching students who had solid computation skills struggle solving word problems, I finally found a solution – having students write their own!
Writing their own word problems gives students a deep understanding of why one problem requires addition to solve while another requires multiplication, subtraction, division, or another problem solving strategy like “make a list”.
Give your students a fun way to write word problems! Set criteria for them such as:
Write a word problem that:
- can be solved using multiplication
- has extra information
- needs two steps to solve
- uses the numbers 43 and 8 in the solution equation
- is about your friend buying a new book that cost $8.43
By setting specific criteria, you will be targeting your students’ needs. And, you will be able to easily see where students’ misconceptions are!
Often when I ask a student to write a multiplication word problem, they write a problem that must be solved using addition instead of multiplication. Even though they know that multiplication requires equal groups, their word problem will involve two different sets of objects that must be added in order to answer the question they have asked. This happens even with sixth graders!
When students have criteria for their problem, they must think deeply about: 1. their question and 2. the “action” or “being” in their problem. Is this a word problem that can be solved using addition or would I have to use subtraction? Is their extra information? Can I solve it using just one step?
In order to write to specific requirements, students have to evaluate their own problems. And, they have to apply their computation skills. We work hard to help students become fluent with their facts. Word problems are a chance for them to use their skills in real life application!
Cultivate a deep understanding of word problems with this Spin-a-Word-Problem FREEbie. Having student-written problems will give you a stash of math talk materials.too! Plus, you will also have an easy way to differentiate to meet the needs of each of your students.
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Thanks! And as always . . .