Read the word problem carefully. The vocabulary and the grammar may pose some problems to your students. Try to read the word problem aloud, as a group, to teach the students good reading habits. The vocabulary should be taught in such a way that the students can translate what they see into terms that they can handle, either symbolic or diagrammatic. In the reading the student should be taught to look for similarities and differences among mathematical ideas. In doing this, the nonessential will be distinguished from the essential information, and they should recognize the unknown(s).
From reading the problem and possibly restating it, the students may begin to make associations that tie the words to a possible solution. It is useful at this point to use diagrams, charts, symbols, approximations, and synthesize a plan of attack to divide the large problem into a set of smaller sub problems. The children should be forced to think the problems through. They must be active participants. One does not learn how to swim, for example, by watching someone else do it. It is the same with solving a word problem.
Let us look at this simple Consumer Math problem, (Problem Two):
Your sister’s gross salary is 15% more than yours in a week’s time. Your gross weekly salary is $ 182.00. What is your sister’s gross salary?
From reading this problem, one should note that the following might be the “key words”’ gross salary, 15% more than, and $ 182.00. One should also note possible associations. Both yours and your sister’s salaries are listed as gross pay. The question asks for gross pay, your solution will be gross pay.
There are two numbers to operate with. The reader should realize that “your sister’s salary” is “more than” yours. The solution, therefore, will be more than $ 182.00. Please note, we are not solving the problem in this step, but merely analyzing the written words.
A large collection of key questions will assist the student in “Knowing the Problem”, such as these’
What data is given?
What units of measurement are used?
Do you need to set up a graph?
Can you write an algebraic expression?
Can you compare the problem to a similar one?
Do you have enough data to solve the problem?
Are there any words or symbols to introduce?
An understanding of the word problem must be a prerequisite to the next step. We can easily aide the student by using language games and a series of strategically planned exercises to test, and if necessary, to further develop their understanding of the concepts in the word problem at hand. You can use such exercises as a word search, crosswords with numbers, and games using codes.
The first step in our method is the most essential. This step enables the person to follow through and solve the problem. Any mishaps at this point will probably result in the failure to reach the desired outcome.