Solving Verbal Problems

About three years ago, I created a strategy for teaching my students to solve word problems that does not rely on key words, and I want to share it with you today.

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A link to download the printable of the four word problems I use will be available at the end of this post.

After teaching the lesson involving the four word problems, I move right into discussing different situations and how those situations can be translated through a word problem.

However, as fifth grade teachers know, key words only take the students so far.

I have read many articles and blog posts that are adamant against teaching key words, but many of them do not offer an alternative.

Many of the fraction situations I don’t introduce until later on in the year once we start fractions.

Speaking of fractions, when we really start digging into multiplication and division of fractions, I always have to revisit the idea of using situations to help solve word problems versus key words.

They did not read to understand what the problem was really telling them or asking them.

To combat this, I teach them to think of word problems more as situations.

Keeping this in mind, I teach word problems in terms of what the situation of the word problem is versus what key word is in the word problem.

Before I taught this strategy, many of my students read word problems in order to find the key words.


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