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    word problems
    By Sue W.

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    First step, check out the vocabulary. If they can't read it, they can't work it. Math books don't necessarily use the same vocabulary as grade level language arts.

    Do they need background information ? ELL kids, or those with limited experiences may have difficulty at this point.

    Second, help them locate key phrases that signal the process; how many are left, how many in all, etc.

    Third, as a group, build a chart. 1. What do you already know from the problem? 2. What are you sked to find? 3. What process will give you that information? 4. Does your answer make sense?

    When they start to get the idea, have them follow a pattern to write their own problems to "trade and try". For example, everyone writes a "how many are left" type problem. You need to set limits, such as only 2 digit numbers, and it has to work, no negative answers at this point, not to mention that it has to be readable. That is a good way to become more familiar with the way word problems are structured, and the kids think it is fun to show off their ideas.

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