I’ve been working extremely hard this year to clarify misconceptions on word problems, because this is such a need for many students. As you probably already know, we do tons of word problems in my classroom, with my Weekly Word Problems I feel very confident in my students’ ability to solve word problems. However, I’m afraid that my students are relying too much on key words and not developing a deep enough understanding of WHY they should add, subtract, multiply, or divide. This is especially noticeable on multistep word problems. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, but I hadn’t found anything that really broke apart word problems, which lead to the creation of my newest product Types of Word Problems.

I teach students that there are three main types of addition and subtraction problems: joining problems, separating problems, and comparing problems. I explain that they will solve problems where the result is unknown, change is unknown, or start is unknown. I recognize that I’m using very small numbers in the examples, but this is intentional. Before I show students what equations to use, I have my students use counters to try to determine how to solve the problem, which is much more meaningful that when I just tell them what equation to use.

I teach students that there are also three main types of multiplication and division word problems: equal groups, arrays, and comparing problems. Within each type of problem, the product may be unknown, the group size may be unknown, and the number of groups may be unknown. Once again, I use counters to have students determine which equation to use to determine how to solve the different types of problems.

In the file, there are 19 posters for each type of word problem for addition ad subtraction word problems and multiplication and division word problems. I’ve created two versions of the posters.

There are three mini books where students can write their own word problems that reflect each style of word problem. One booklet is for addition and subtraction and the second booklet is for multiplication and division word problems. I also included a version for both addition and subtraction. In this version, I replaced all numbers with letters, because I wanted my students to not focus on a numerical answer, but the equation used to solve the problem. I found that my students’ primary focus was the answer, not the process, so I wanted to try something different.

When students have to write a word problem to reflect a certain style of word problem, it raises the level of thinking and problem solving significantly. This is a much more complex skill, so we typically practice writing word problems through guided practice first.

For additional practice solving and identifying types of word problems, I’ve created 22 addition and subtraction and 18 multiplication and division task cards, for a total of 40 task cards. There are two task cards for each type of word problem, so there is a wide variety of problems.

Julie says

Are your rounding riddles still available? They look very interesting.

Thank you

Julie

Ashleigh says

Yes, there’s a link in the post right above the picture.

Jackie says

I was looking for the blue topped poster that has a grid showing ALL the types of problems. I bought the file, but it was not in it. Where is that available?

Ashleigh says

Oh! That’s one of my math anchor charts.