Sunday, March 9, 2014

Teaching Key Words in Math

THANKS for hopping over to my little corner of the world to get another BRIGHT idea. 
If you're anything like me, as I surf through the bright ideas hop, I am having a lot of "Why didn't I think of that?" and "Duh!" moments.  I hope to provide for you another one of those moments.

One of the most effective things I do this year is my math number line with key words for word problems.  
Teaching Math Story Problems
1) Read the problem. Read it again.  
2)Circle the numbers in the problem.
3) Circle the key words. 
4)Find your key word and decide what to do.

As you know, teaching what to do with a word problem sounds easy enough but it isn't.   

With this system I am able to help struggling students easily. The addition key words are to the far right...students know that those key words mean add and then they begin to know that means their number will get "bigger". The subtraction words are on the far left.  The numbers are "smaller" and students know things are being "taken away".  Notice that they are also color coded.  This allows me to have conversations that get them thinking. Conversations where I don't give them the answer. Conversations like this

"What is your key word?" - (sum)
"Did you find your word on the number line?" - (yes)
"What color is it?" - (green)

Pause here while you give the teacher stare......

"So......what do you do?" - (add???)


All you need is colored paper or sentence strips.  Write them down and add them to the wall as they come up in lessons

Here is a cheat sheet for you. Of course there will be those few problems which break the rules but for the most part the student will be successful using the common key words. 

For more fantastic teaching ideas, hop on over to Michelle at Well, Michelle? to learn about classroom engagement ideas. 


  1. haha. Totally know what you mean about those 'Why didn't I think of that' moment ;) I love your idea of placing the key words along your number line that way! Thanks for sharing!!
    Teaching in Paradise

  2. Love the step by step problem solving directions! Makes it super easy for kiddos!!
    Great post!
    Peace, Love, and First Grade

  3. So smart to make your keywords visual! Thank you for sharing:)

    The Schroeder Page

  4. pokonamah hade blogna lah, ngan nteu ngarti da uing mah ah, hayang nunda link we k dieu teh, haha

  5. I love that you color code your key words! Great idea!

  6. This really is a fantastic and informative blog.!
    Thanks for sharing this.
    Confidence Booster



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