Problem Solving

Rogers, Patricia Edward Hartigan
548-1811

Objectives: Demonstrate some common ways problems can be solved List some basic steps in problem solving Suggest some useful strategies for solving word problems Apparatus Needed: Practice exercise sheet (Using Parts and Wholes with Word Problems) or a teacher-made ditto of word problems with multiple-choice answers. The choices should be listed as Add, Subtract, Multiply, and Divide. Pencil Recommended Strategy: W P --------------------------- not | | | equal | + | - | | | | --------------------------- | | . | equal | X | ----- | | | . |
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For each word problem, draw a decision square on the practice sheet of
paper. A decision square is a square divided into four sections with
one of the four operational signs in each section. See diagram above.

SAMPLE EXERCISE

Jill's hive contained 5 lbs. of honey. She removed 3 lbs. to sell. How
many pounds of honey did she have left?

First, find the question the problem is asking. Then decide
whether it is asking for a whole (W) or for a part of something (P).
"How many pounds of honey did she have left?" is the question. It is
asking for the part that is left after 3lbs. have been removed.
Next, using the information in the problem, determine whether the
groups are "unequal" or "equal" in value to each other. Since, five
pounds and three pounds are unequal amounts, the groups are unequal.
Circle "P" and "Unequal" on the decision box. Put your index finger on
the "P". Place your thumb on the word unequal. Move your finger down
the square and your thumb across until they meet. In the case of this
problem, subtraction is the operation that should be used to solve this
problem.
Words such as "in all," "final," "total," and "together" indicate
that whole values are being used. Words like "have left," and "have
then" indicate that part values are being used. The word "each"
suggest equal groups. When the numbers or quantities are different,
unequal groups are present. Circle the word "subtract" on the answer
sheet.
Part 2 of this strategy is to use the numbers and the correct
operation from the decision box to solve the problem numerically. In
this case 5-3=2. This activity is recommended for use in grades 6-9,
however, it can be simplified for lower grades or to meet the needs of
the individual.