A Tip for Solving Word Problems
Date: 11/8/95 at 16:21:55 From: Anonymous Subject: Tips on Solving Word Problems Dear Dr.Math: Our fourth grade class is studying how to solve many different types of word problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Can you give us some general steps into solving word problems? Thank You, Sleepy Hollow School
Date: 1/5/96 at 11:10:44 From: Doctor Ethan Subject: Re: Tips on Solving Word Problems Hello Sleepy Hollow, I have many suggestions for word problems. However, there is one that I think is so important, that it is the only one that I will give. I mean it. I think that this is the single most important thing that one can do to approach word problems. MAKE A DRAWING OR TABLE. Some problems need a drawing, some a table, and some both. There is nothing that you can do that will better allow you to understand how to do word problems that to make a good relevant drawing. Let's think about an example: Johnnie is having a party and she is buying apples for her guests. She is having 26 friends at the party and she wants to have one apple per friend. She has to buy bags of apples at the supermarket and six apples come in each bag. How many bags does she need? Maybe even without a drawing you could figure out that you need to divide 26 by 6 to get 4 remainder 2, but you may get confused with what to do with the remainder. Maybe a drawing will help.  * * * * * * ****** That will be our drawing for a bag. So to get 26 (and this will help even if you didn't see to divide in the beginning) we start counting bags. (Even though from division we know we need four to begin with.)     * * * * * * * * * 6 * + * 6 * + * 6 * + * 6 * So far we only have 24 apples * * * * * * * * so we need another bag. ****** ****** ****** ******  * * * 6 * * * ****** So know that she needs to buy 5 bags. This will not solve all your problems but that is my biggest and best hint: I hope that it helps. -Doctor Ethan, The Geometry Forum
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