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Help with word problems?

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My ds11, sixth grade, is having trouble with word problems. Mainly determining if he should multiply or divide. Are there any resources I can use to reinforce this skill? Honestly, I have a hard time with this myself, so I'm having a difficult time teaching it in a way that he can understand. I think CWP will be too difficult. We use MUS right now, and he is on Epsilon. Thank you!

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I like the Process Skills in Problem Solving books from FAN Math over the CWP. But they're similar.


Some people find the Ed Zaccaro books work well for kids.


Much more traditional... Evan Moor has a Daily Math Word Problems series.


So that's some good practice possibilities. But how bad is it? The root of this is usually being able to imagine what's actually happening the scenario in the problem. So, do you draw pictures? Make diagrams? Do you talk it out? Have you tried it with simple materials? How bad is it? Like, can he do it with basic problems but gets turned around in multistep problems or is it across the board? How about using Problems Without Figures? We did this last year for awhile and it was useful.


This is the original book:



But also, I made an updated version that I used with my kids if you're interested:


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The Process Skills (FAN math) books are great for teaching the problem solving. They are also not really big books, so if you had to back up a bit to get the hang of bar models, it wouldn't be a big detour.


Miquon teaches fractions before division, and I think this gave my younger son a really good grasp of fractions presented in different ways and what they mean. I do not remember which book has the bulk of that information though. The books are very inexpensive--around $7 if I remember correctly. 


This page has reminders/examples for reference once you've started to get the hang of it. http://www.teachingwithamountainview.com/2014/02/making-sense-of-multiplying-dividing.html

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I see it's already been mentioned, but my favorite resource for that are the FAN math books. They have explicit teaching, scaffolding, and complete solutions for all problems. As mentioned, they are also short enough to work well as a supplement to a curriculum. 

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 How bad is it? 


Well, I don't know what is typical, but here is an example of a problem that confused him on which operation to use. 


"It takes 1 1/6 dozen eggs to make a fancy angel food cake. If Esther has 10 1/2 dozen eggs, how many cakes can she make?"  I am hopeless when it comes to math (dyscalculia). 


Edited to add: No, we do not draw pictures. That is a great idea. 


Edited to add again: Nevermind, I misread the solution. 

Edited by estelleblue
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