17 Strategies for Teaching Learners to Solve Word Problems

Are you looking for teaching students to solve word problems? If so, keep reading.

1. Get the student to talk through math word problems as they are solving them to find errors the student is making.

2. Give the student a math reference sheet to keep at their desk (e.g., steps used in doing subtraction, multiplication, addition, and division problems).

3. Get the student to check their word problems using a calculator to reinforce the learning of math facts.

4. Teach the student the ideas of more than, less than, equal to, and zero. The use of concrete objects should enable the learning process.

5. Do not require the student to learn more information than they are capable of learning at any time.

6. Get the student to be a peer tutor and teach a concept they have learned to another student. This can serve as reinforcement for the student.

7. Give practice solving math word problems using an app or a hand-held educational device that gives instant feedback to the student.

8. Make sure the student has mastery of math ideas at each level before introducing a new skill level.

9. Get the student to manipulate objects (e.g., apples, oranges, toy cars, toy airplanes, etc.) as the operation is described.

10. Minimize the emphasis on competition. Competitive learning activities may cause the student to hurry and solve math word problems incorrectly.

11. Give the student a quiet space to work (e.g., “office” or study carrel, etc.). This should be used as a way to lessen distractions, not as a punishment.

12. Get the student to question any directions, explanations, or instructions they do not understand.

13. Praise the student for correctly solving math word problems : (a) give the student a concrete reward (e.g., privileges such as leading the line, handing out learning materials, 10 minutes of free time, etc.) or (b) give the student an informal reward (e.g., praise, handshake, smile, etc.).

14. Acknowledge quality work (e.g., display the student’s work, congratulate the student, etc.).

15. Consider using Alexa for the Math Classroom.

16. Try gamifying your math lessons.

17. Consider using one of the apps and tools from our many math app lists:

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