The skill you need most when working with word problems is understanding how to turn the situation you’re facing into numbers you can calculate. The end of a word problem usually contains the question that you need to answer to solve the problem. Ignoring the letters c and h for now, Here are some examples: If the local train is going 25 miles per hour . In very simple word problems that relationship usually involves just one of the four basic operations. Here are the needed steps: First, we set up an equation. For example. It simply states Greg has 17 more compared to Jack, so here the word more simply indicates addition: Greg has as many as Jack AND 17 more, so Greg has 15 + 17 marbles. Have a piece of scrap paper handy and jot down a few notes as you read through a word problem. Answer the question the problem asks. You can express this relationship like this: This word equation is shorter than the statement it came from. Then, answer the question. The end of a word problem usually contains the question that you need to answer to solve the problem. The only quantity we know is the total hours for the day. You can substitute the c, h, and 2 into the relationships above, and then match the equations (1) - (4) with the equations (a) through (d). This article is written by a Russian who immigrated to US and noticed how COLLEGE LEVEL students have difficulties even with the simplest word problems! We don't know the hours already passed nor the hours left, so initially you can use two empty lines in the equation that shows the basic relationship between the quantities: Then, the information in the first sentence gives us another relationship: Less means you subtract. You can initially write an empty line for what is not known, and later replace that with a variable. to help them. problem? Children manifest the difficulty in this task when they read a simple word problem and then ask, "Do I go this times this, or do I divide? What are the steps and fine details? In the original problem, the equations are given with the help of h and c instead of the long phrases "hair length before cutting" and "hair length after cutting". Consider now this problem: Many teachers might try to explain this as a subtraction problem, but in the most fundamental level it is about addition! Why are math word problems SO difficult for elementary school children? Finding Use these sites to find good word problems to solve. Students need to see the quantities and the RELATIONSHIP between them. You can You can express this relationship between the width and height of the house as the following word equation: With the same type of thinking, you can translate The express train is moving three times faster than the local train into this word equation: As you can see, each of the examples allows you to set up a word equation using one of the Big Four operations. 15. the width of the house is 80 feet”: The third example tells you, “If the local train is going 25 miles per hour. In the original problem, the equations are given Example: Helen has 2 inches of hair cut off each time she goes to the hair salon. One could even omit the actual calculations and concentrate just finding the The do's and don'ts of teaching problem solving in math, A list of websites focusing on word problems and problem solving, Using a 100-bead abacus in elementary math, Fact families & basic addition/subtraction facts, Add a 2-digit number and a single-digit number mentally, Multiplication concept as repeated addition, Structured drill for multiplication tables, Multiplication Algorithm — Two-Digit Multiplier, Adding unlike fractions 2: Finding the common denominator, Multiply and divide decimals by 10, 100, and 1000, How to calculate a percentage of a number, Four habits of highly effective math teaching. So let's use the variable p for the hours passed. Solving the Equation. Here it gives you a relationship similar to the one above, and it Generally, solving a word problem involves four easy steps: Read through the problem and set up a word equation — that is, an equation that contains words as well as numbers. The height of a house is half as long as its width. Example:  Greg has 17 more marbles than Jack. clear and written down before fiddling with the actual numbers. A list of websites focusing on word problems and problem solving see the answer right away. The keyword together tells us that ADDITION is probably the operation needed. However, the presence of the word "more" can indicate either an addition or subtraction, so be careful. When I read this problem, I could immediately see that I could write equations from the different sentences in the problem, but I couldn't Solution. I need help. them? b) c = 2 − h       d) h = c − 2. It still talks about two people having certain amount of marbles together. actually spells out the mass of Stonehenge. How to set up algebraic equations to match word problems, Seven reasons behind math anxiety and how to prevent it, Mental math "mathemagic" with Arthur Benjamin (video), Write 3 different story problems where the solution is based on the relationship, Write 3 different story problems where the solution is based on the relationships. Hint: it has to do with a "recipe" that many math lessons follow. Can you see the general principle governing this problem? If the teacher just jumps directly to the number sentences when solving word SIMPLE, isn't it?? If you have In this problem there is seemingly lots of information, but really it's about recognizing quantities and the simple relationship between The quantities and the relationship between them have to be made a. h = 2 − c      c. c = h − 2 Greg have – not what is the difference in the amounts of marbles. Use math to solve the equation. When a problem says “If so-and-so were true . problem is not about the difference. . Which possibility of the ones listed below is right? The question asks how many does They need to step out of the 5, 2, 10, 789, or any others numbers in the problem, and see the general quantities involved and how those are related to each other. Setting up and solving an equation from a word problem can be tricky, but this tutorial can help. The do's and don'ts of teaching problem solving in math You can use word equations to clarify this question so you know right from the start what you’re looking for. Helen has 2 inches of hair cut off each time she goes to the hair salon. problems, then the students won't see the step that happens in the mind before You can write the question “How tall is the house” as: Finally, you can rephrase the question “What’s the difference in speed between the express train and the local train?” in this way: At this point, you can plug in numbers to solve the word problem. . . One thing being greater than another implies you add. What are the quantities and the relationship between them here? Bobo is spinning five fewer plates than Nunu. Students often have problems setting up an equation for a word problem in algebra. It's like two separate pieces The first thing I do when trying to figure out how to teach something is to analyze my own thinking. He describes his ideas on how to fill in the gap formed when students haven't learned how to solve word problems in earlier education. The relationship between the quantities is the same, so it is solved the same way: by writing an addition equation. See all the steps, from defining variables to getting that final answer, and everything in between! And paper is cheap, so don’t be afraid to use it. If .” and then asks you a question, assume it is true and use this information to answer the question. quantities and relationships. I figured that after writing the equations I would see some way forwad; probably one equation is solved and gives an answer to another equation.