Does anyone else have serious problems with students and word problems?????? I gave a worksheet today...EASY multi-step word problems and they don't even know where to start! The problem was telling them that Tom rode 13 miles in one day. Martha rode 18 miles in one day. How much farther did Martha ride in a week than Tom? They subtracted 13 from 18 and said that was their answer. Not a clue when I asked how far they rode in a week.....Not even a clue as to how to find out! I'm at loss for what to do....we've been doing word problems off and on all year....not to mention that they start word problems in like....first grade!

LOL. I thought the same thing (well, almost). You tell them how much they rode in one day, but not all the other days, so they assumed they didn't ride on those days. You didn't write that "Tom rode 13 miles each day for one week. Martha rode 18 miles each day for one week. How much farther did Martha ride in a week than Tom?" You might consider also specifying whether you mean a Monday through Friday week, or a Sunday through Saturday week. I'll bet you'd find fewer students would get the correct answer if you wrote, "Tom rode an average of 13 miles a day for one week. Martha rode an average of 18 miles a day for one week. How much farther did Martha ride than Tom?"

Well, except that students really do need to get in the habit of marking up the problem, so they see the units that go together without needing to be manipulated and the units that don't. If it's any consolation, Lives4Math, I see the same thing with adults.

I don't have a big problem with multi-step problems, but every week my kids do multi-step problems. For every problem they must highlight all of the important information and fill out a graphic organizer. It's definitely takes time for them to get used to picking out what's important and deciding how to use that information to answer the problem.

model drawing I use the 8 step model drawing (Singapore Math) to help them visualize the word problems. The kids that are strong in math don't need it but the struggling ones really seem to understand it so much better with this method. Step 1: Read the ? Step 2: Decide who is involved Step 3: Decide what is involved Step 4: Draw unit bar Step 5: Reread problem 1 sentence at a time & insert information into unit bar (parts go inside) (total is outside at the right end) Step 6: Insert question mark for what you want to find (part or total) Step 7: Solve the problem- [usually the kids can figure out how since they've broken it into bits & the visual (unit bar) gives you a pretty good idea about the math operation you'll need] insert answer into unit bar Step 8: Step 8: Write the answer in a complete sentence. There are a couple of videos on youtube where you can see it in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsRUU6c6ijE

We use the SOLVE method S-Study the problem (circle the question, underline facts) O-Organize the data (List data needed, cross off extra) L-Line UP a Plan (Write out what you are going to do) V-Verify the Plan (complete the math) E-Examine the results (compare the answer to the question, does it make sense?) IT works really well with my low achieving students! Hope that helps. Here is a web address with actual lessons on SOLVE. It wont let me post the link but it is the first 20 lessons in the algebraic thinking- foundations. The web site is algebraicthinking.