WORD PROBLEMS

Word problems can be particularly difficult for some adults for the following reasons:

  1. A language barrier; the student may speak and understand two languages; however, their comprehension skills may be undeveloped in each.
  2. English language words specific to mathematics may need reinforcement.
  3. Basic arithmetic concepts may need to be clarified.
  4. Multiplication facts usually need reinforcement.
  5. Prevailing views that word problems are 'hard'.


For the most part, students have been exposed to traditional word problems that consist of the given facts (numbers) and a question. This approach asks the student to determine how they will arrive at a solution using language specific clues with and without numbers

GOAL: to motivate adult students who are at the 110 Literacy level to learn how to solve basic math problems in a supportive atmosphere.

To facilitate motivation, these problems are best presented as 'brain teasers' or 'twisters', for a short duration at the beginning of each math class. Presenting math problems for 10 to 15 minutes alleviates preconceived notions that math problems are 'hard' and must be worked at laboriously. Therefore, only 2 or 3 questions were presented each day.

Secondly, students are more eager to attack word problems if short lessons are presented as an enjoyable activity. Lots of discussion, rapid calculating, and a flurry of opinion takes place. Students are motivated to bring their personal math problems to class. e.g. Buying a carpet; comparative shopping.

OBJECTIVE: the student will learn the basic mathematical concepts, the operations, and the key words that provide clues to the solution of word problems. The students will use these acquired skills to solve word problems in real life situations.

METHOD: throughout the semester, multiplication facts were reviewed daily using a myriad of methods to challenge retention and interest! Before the problems were introduced, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division concepts were taught. Addition/subtraction and multiplication/division operations were taught as converse operations using pictures and drawings. Next, clue words were written on a large wall poster.

The questions in this package are arranged in order of difficulty beginning with one-step problems and ending with two-step problems. Additional reinforcement to identify factual information and the question asked is given are also included. The last page presents traditional one or two-step problems with numbers.


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