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Word Problem Posters: Truly Teach Thinking without using Key Words


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This set of Problem Solving Posters will help you teach students how to Solve Word Problems and to use Strip Diagrams. Word problems have become more complex with unknowns in any place in a problem. Now more than ever, we need to get rid of “key words” and teach students to truly think. This set of posters will help you support understanding of the parts of each type of word problem.

Each poster is 8.5 x 11 inches. Here are the included posters:

?Header: Thinking Support





?Equal Groups

?Multiplicative Comparison

A Teacher Key is included with ideas of words that should be placed in each box on each poster.

Consider this problem: Grace has 20 pencils in all. 14 pencils are pink and the rest are green. How many green pencils does Grace have? Unfortunately, words like “in all” have been taught as key words for addition. Many students see those words and simply add the 2 numbers from the problem. What we need to do is teach students that “in all” indicates the total. 20 is the total in this problem and the unknown is one of the parts. We can subtract 20-14 to find the missing part (green pencils).

This resource will help students understand the true meaning of phrases like “in all” that have been traditionally taught as “key words.” These posters give students places to record how those words connect to problem parts (start, change, result, whole, part, etc.).

Both the TEKS and Common Core standards specify that students need to solve for unknowns in any position in word problems. Teaching key words will often lead students to an incorrect answer in these types of problems and reduces students to surface level readers. Instead, let’s teach students to truly think!

Additional information

Resource Type

Worksheets, Hands On Activities

Grade Level

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Number of Pages