Mathematics on its own can be a challenging subject. Combine it with reading comprehension and your young students could start to really struggle. That’s why those Grade 3 math problems often trip students up.
Still, it’s important to teach students how to better grasp those problems. They will only become more prevalent as they advance. You must give them the basic skills and knowledge needed to tackle those challenges as soon as possible.
In this article, you’ll find different tips for more effectively teaching word problems involving math. Try them out in your classroom and see how effective they are on your students.
Clearly Discuss What Different Mathematical Operations are for
Solving Grade 3 math problems involves understanding some context clues. The wording of the math problem is supposed to clue your students in to which operation they need to use.
Knowing that it would be a good move on your part to explain in greater detail what the mathematical operations for.
Clearly indicate that addition is for combining numbers to get a bigger result. Say that subtracting is about taking a smaller number out of a larger number until you get the difference. Multiplication is adding numbers repeatedly while division is about distributing a larger number into smaller yet equal parts.
By putting the purpose of the mathematical operations into words, it becomes easier for your students to understand what they are for. They can then recognize the context clues that appear in the word problems and respond accordingly.
Simplify the Composition of the Word Problem
You may not realize it right away, but you may be making your word problems needlessly complicated. The word problems may be too long or feature too many numbers. Upon seeing it, the students may feel intimidated right away.
Remember that word problems are still new to grade 3 math students. They are taking on problems they likely haven’t seen in the past.
Ease them into the challenge by simplifying the composition of the word problems. Don’t worry if the problems are a bit too formulaic to start. That can even be considered a good thing because the students will be able to pick up on the patterns faster.
Wait until your students have mastered basic math problems before you introduce more complex challenges.
Show Your Students How to Identify the Important Details
One reason why students often have trouble solving word problems is that they focus on the wrong things. Maybe there’s a sentence in there that they cannot fully understand. Mistakenly, they assign it a greater level of importance than it’s supposed to have.
Of course, you cannot just eliminate all the wording altogether. What you can do though is teach your students how to focus on the most important details.
Teach them to focus first on the question posed in the problem. Let them know that their goal is to answer that question above everything else.
Next, tell them to write down the numbers included in the problem on a separate sheet of paper where they can work on them without getting confused. You can also refer to your earlier lessons and remind your students of the keywords and phrases that hint at mathematical operations.
If they can separate those important details from the word problem, they’ll have a better chance of providing the correct answer.
Maintain a Consistent Tone When Writing the Word Problems
Solving word problems will be easier for third-grade students if they can pick up on the little clues you provide. Now for your part, you cannot forget to include those clues when constructing the word problems.
Learning about synonyms is a task students will have to handle at some point, but you can let their English teacher worry about that. For now, focus more on maintaining a consistent tone when composing your grade 3 math word problems.
Soon enough, your students will be able to pick up quickly on what they need to do after noticing the keywords in the problem. They will be able to solve the word problems faster thanks to that.
Encourage Discussion Among Your Students
We all had our own strengths and weaknesses when we were going through school. Some of us excelled in English, others consistently had high grades in science, while a select few had no problems with math.
That still holds true for the students of today. Use that to your advantage when teaching grade 3 math problems.
What you can do is allow your students to solve the word problems in groups. Hopefully, you’ll have students in the groups that have their own specialties. By working together, they can more effectively parse through the problem and come up with a correct answer.
The lessons from those group sessions can also remain with the students. After seeing how their classmates solved the problem, they can pick up valuable tips they can use too.
Allow Your Students to Create Their Own Word Problems
A peek behind the curtain could help your students develop a better grasp of word problems. They’ll be able to see why the question is so important and why the numbers matter. They can also figure out why many of the details in the world problem are not important.
By creating word problems of their own, they may develop a better understanding of the ones you present. Now that they know how to put the problems together, they can also work faster to pick them apart.
Give Your Students Plenty of Opportunities to Practice
Practice makes perfect when it comes to mastering skills. The same holds true for solving grade 3 math word problems.
It may be rough at first, but your students will learn as they get more chances to take on the challenges head on. Don’t rush them through this process.
Soon enough, all that practice will pay off and your students will develop the skills they need to handle math problems consistently. Word problems in mathematics can look like huge obstacles to your third grade students the first time you introduce them. Try out the tips included in this article to make those word problems more manageable for your students.
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