# Which math operation to use? Drill needed...

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My dd is an average math student, but needing some drill and review. I'm noticing in particular that she struggles with knowing which operation to do in word problems. Example: if the bird cage is 32" high and the bird is 6" high, how much higher is the bird cage than the bird? She'll stand there and guess, "so, I add right? Oh no, I must multiply. Or do I divide?" :001_huh: It just does NOT come quickly. So my question is, does anyone know of a resource (preferably a website) where all those code words are drilled? I'm looking for something where she simply has to say which operation to do based on the words used, not necessarily working the solution out. Does such a beast exist? :bigear: Thank you in advance!

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I don't know a website to help but I do try to talk my dc through this kind of thing by asking them 2 things...what is the problem asking? Will the answer be a bigger number or a smaller number than the numbers we already know about?

If they can't answer those questions I back up to the way beginning and talk it out using our language skills. Math skills are secondary to this process.

if the bird cage is 32" high and the bird is 6" high, how much higher is the bird cage than the bird?

Do they want to know how high the bird cage is? (no)

Do they want to know how tall the bird is? (no)

So what do they want to know? (how much room is left over after you put the bird in the cage)

What is the biggest number in the problem? (32)

And what is 32? (how tall the cage is)

So is the answer to the problem going to be taller than the cage? (no)

So do you want a number smaller than 32 or larger than 32?

How do we get a smaller number? (subtract)

Usually my dc will clue in after just the first couple of questions and tell me to stop talking so they can work out the problem. :lol:

I have yet to deal with wondering if we should subtract or divide. But I suppose if it came to that I'd start asking if we were making groups of something.

This process has taken me successfully through elementary math. I'm still figuring out the best way to talk out the rate problems in my ds's Algebra. He caught on before I needed to explain it all the way through.

I'm sorry if that was terribly long-winded and not at all helpful. I LOVE word problems. :001_smile:

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Gosh, it seems like I saw something recently, but I didn't pay attention to it because my son actually does better with word problems. I did a quick search and found this, lots of information I only skimmed over it.

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I would strongly recommend NOT just trying to find words and memorize. That causes loads of problems in multi-step problems or in problems where the wording is different.

Instead, teach problem-solving approaches. For the problem you provide, I'd have your daughter draw a picture. When you do that, you see what operation is needed much quicker.

In teaching word problems, I recommend my students use words for the set-up as an in-between stage. That's not going to work nearly as well at this level as the pictures, but it would go like this (generally with the picture):

(bird cage) + (bird) = <<then think... would this make sense? what would it represent? No, can't work, then the bird is on top of the cage.>>

(bird) - (bird cage) = <<Hopefully she'd notice that the subtraction is going the wrong way here.>>

(bird cage) - (bird) = <<Yup, this is going to tell us how much space the bird has in the cage.>>

I find many many students have learned word problems by just attempting an operation (wild guessing) and then see if the answer matches. If it doesn't they generally give up. Using words to set up the problem as an inbetween stage really does help - but it is SLOW going at first. Speed is only going to come with a LOT of practice. You might go through a number of problems yourself first and just work with her on getting the problem set up - not on finding the answer. (I really am liking the Singapore bar models with my son, even though the approach is different than how I'm used to teaching. You might check them out.)

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I know there is something out there like you are asking about. I saw it in a catalog but unfortunately I haven't been able to remember which one.

I will say that my son uses R&S Math and they do teach you the words that often go with certain operations. No, it's not foolproof, but it is often helpful. I believe it was R&S 4 that there was a lot of practice with that in the oral drill portion of the book. You could just get the teacher book, find those drills and spend a few minutes a day on them.

Lisa

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First things first, you need something like Calculadders for the mastery of the basic facts. You can pick anything similiar. This is what I used for last dd who siked me out on the fact sheets, lol. Without the basic facts, you will set dc up for failure in math. I know it sounds harsh, but I am all about the math.

Second, you need mental math development with critical, pattern, and problem solving. I would start with some of the Everyday Math books. :)

Oh, I would not push the word problems for probably a good six months. There are several workbooks that I like mentioned on the boards. I have used some of them to reinforce or add extra practice, as well as explain something differently.

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My dd ... struggles with knowing which operation to do in word problems. ...I'm looking for something where she simply has to say which operation to do based on the words used, not necessarily working the solution out.

I agree with trying to get her to understand the problem, rather than looking for code words.

You can use a regular word problem book as you suggest: have her draw a diagram and write the necessary equation, but not do the actual arithmetic. For example, in your birdcage example, talk her through drawing a diagram of the birdcage and the bird, then write the subtraction problem and call it good, without doing the actual subtraction.

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My dd is an average math student, but needing some drill and review. I'm noticing in particular that she struggles with knowing which operation to do in word problems. Example: if the bird cage is 32" high and the bird is 6" high, how much higher is the bird cage than the bird? She'll stand there and guess, "so, I add right? Oh no, I must multiply. Or do I divide?" :001_huh: It just does NOT come quickly. So my question is, does anyone know of a resource (preferably a website) where all those code words are drilled? I'm looking for something where she simply has to say which operation to do based on the words used, not necessarily working the solution out. Does such a beast exist? :bigear: Thank you in advance!

Karyn,

Purple math has a great list of key words. I put them on 3x5 cards for my kids, and then just allow them to use the cards for how every long they felt the need to. My oldest two have learned all the key words and no longer need the cards, but they did use them for several years.

Heather

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