Word Problems

DecimalsGeneral InterestMultiplicationNumber and OperationsNumerical ReasoningReal-World ProblemsVideosWord Problems

When You Multiply by 10, Just Add a Zero? Horrors!?!

Have you ever asked students to solve 12.6 x 10, and they respond that the answer is 12.60? I have, many times. Students who do this apply a pattern that works when they multiply whole numbers by 10—they tack on a zero to the end of the number they’re multiplying. But then they apply the same pattern when working with decimals. What can we do?
October 1, 2018
AssessmentBooks by MarilynDivisionGeneral InterestMath and LiteratureMultiplicationNumber and OperationsNumerical ReasoningProblem SolvingWord Problems

One Lesson, Three Grades, Three Twists

The children's book 17 Kings and 42 Elephants by Margaret Mahy is one of my long-time favorites. In this post I describe a division lesson that I’ve taught to third graders but recently revisited with fourth- and fifth-grade classes. With the older students, we tried extensions that differentiated the experience and put students in charge of deciding on problems for themselves. It was exciting to me to expand a lesson I've taught many times into a multi-day investigation.
January 30, 2017
Number and OperationsNumerical ReasoningWord Problems

A Problem with a Word Problem

A word problem on a third-grade standardized math test didn’t call for a numerical answer, but instead asked students to decide if the problem should be solved by adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing. One third grader complained to his teacher, frustrated because he thought there was more than one correct possibility.
March 19, 2015
General InterestVideosWord Problems

Word Problems

Word problems have long been difficult and frustrating for students to solve and for teachers to teach. A colleague recently forwarded an email from a woman looking for resources to help her fourth-grade granddaughter with word problems. I thought for several days about how to offer positive support to both the grandmother and her granddaughter.
March 10, 2015