Word Problems in Math
Problems solving is a math challenge that really push the envelope for most students with disabilities. It requires that they:
- Read and process the word problem
- Choose the operation.
- Create a math equation to do the math and
- Create an answer that labels the answer.
We often focus so much on learning and memorizing the math facts that we don't give students enough practice in using math to solve problems. In special education we need to start early and identify the steps needed to problem solve.
Pairing problem solving with a favorite Holiday is a good way to engage special education students. Like the free printable Christmas dot to dots, these activities support Math in a way that harnesses your students' excitement about the holiday.
Common Core State Standards: The CCSS introduce word problems and problem solving in First Grade:
Common Core State Standard OA.1: Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.
Steps for Jingle Math to Build Problem Solving Skills
- Identify the information needed: specifically,"How many?"
- Identify what the problem is asking for to find the operation. This should involve building word lists for operations, such as "How many more?" (subtraction) and "How many in all?"
- Write a "Math Sentence" to describe the way we will answer the question in the word problem.
- Solve the problem.
- Label the answer properly: what was the problem asking for? How many pigs? How much water? How many more more gypsies?
- Problem checking: Did we answer the question? Does our answer make sense? Is it labeled in a way so we know it is answered?
The Printables and Some Word Problems
This article contains free printables that you can run on card stock and mount with magnets. I also include student pages that they can color and cut out and make up math word problems of their own they can model with partners at their tables in partner pairs, or in small groups. Each page will feature one of the four printables: and some model problems. Feel free to use mine, but please be creative and make up some of your own.
These problems will focus on addition and subtraction. These are designed to be used in grades one through three with typical children and children with specific learning disabilities with support, but would work with older students with significant developmental and intellectual delays.