Word Problems Redefined + Teacher Appreciation Sale!!

I have struggled with word problems my entire life. The struggle began as an elementary school student, confused by all the words, numbers, and steps.  The struggle continues as I try to help my students through the same difficulties that I once had.

As I have watched my students struggle throughout the years, it has been difficult to pinpoint what it is that makes it so hard for them to understand word problems. 

Taking a closer look this year, I have noticed a couple of things...
  1. My students are often more focused on finding an answer, than understanding the problem.
  2. My students are great problem solvers, outside of math worksheets filled with word problems.
Somehow, my students get lost in the translation of these word problems.

Being the sneaky teacher that I am, I wanted to find a way to FORCE my students to UNDERSTAND the word problems they were solving without jumping right to an answer (whether it be the right one or the wrong one). 

Therefore, I have REDEFINED word problems in my classroom...
Here's how they work...

  1. My "redefined" word problems start with a situation and a question, as most word problems do. The catch is that these word problems are missing "numbers". Students need to first read and understand the problem, to figure out what additional information is needed to solve it. 
  2. Next, students need to make a plan to decide how this problem would be solved, if given the necessary information.
  3. Students then get to fill in that information themselves, writing a complete word problem. (This part is great for differentiation, as students will work with numbers that they are comfortable with).
  4. Finally, students solve the problem!!

By omitting the "numbers" in the beginning, students are forced to think about the problem before actually solving it!!

Here is another example...
Check out 18 more of these at my TpT store...
This product also includes 10 "Pose a Question" tasks, in which students are given an equation, chart, line plot, or geometric figure, and are asked to write their own word problems and pose their own questions...

For more info, visit my TpT Store HERE!!

I hope that you will enjoy this method of teaching word problems as much as I have!!


  1. Wow, I absolutely love this. Word problems are without a doubt the hardest thing for my kids... especially my ESOL kiddos. They understand how to do every concept, but the moment there are words and questions in the problem, the train comes off the tracks. We consistently practice the problems, but I love your idea on actually having them rewrite the problem. Off to TPT to take a look :-)

    Glitter In Third

  2. Wow! You have really made these word problems accessible. Interesting blog, thanks for sharing!