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Math is all around us. We use math in school, in our jobs, in our homes, and out in the world. When using math in the real world, it can sometimes be hard to know what type of math to use. The first step to understanding math is learning how to read the problems correctly and understanding which function you will need. This takes a different kind of skill than reading in Social Studies or Science, since reading and comprehending the content is only the first step. Therefore, learning to read math questions correctly has to be approached a bit differently. Instead of looking up definitions or identifying analogies, similes, or metaphors, we will be looking for key ideas in each math problem as clues to which math function is needed.

In this unit, we will learn to take written words and turn them into math problems we can solve. Some of them may even feel familiar since you have probably done them in real life.

When you finish this math unit, you should be able to confidently answer these questions:

  • Have I learned the key terms I'll need to solve word problems?
  • Can I recognize word problems in real life?
  • Do I know how to read the problem and identify its parts?
  • Can I determine which function will be needed to solve?
  • Can I visualize the problem?
  • Would a graphic organizer help me? Which one and why?
  • Do I know how to "think aloud?"

Key Terms

  • Compare

    To note the difference between two things; a word that tells us to subtract

  • Context

    How a word is used or fits in a sentence

  • Double

    To multiply by 2

  • Equals

    The same in number or amount

  • Fraction

    Part of a whole number

  • Graphic Organizer

    A chart, table, or picture that helps us see numbers in a different way

  • Percent

    Parts per hundred, represented by the % symbol

  • Plus

    A word that tells us to add

  • Times

    A word that tells us to multiply

  • Triple

    To multiply by 3

  • Word Problem

    A written problem that can be solved using math

Now, let's look at the following:

Amy buys 3 shirts at $15 each and 2 pairs of jeans at $30 each. How much does she spend in all?

This is an important skill. In school, teachers sometimes give you word problems to practice.

A word problem is a written problem which can be solved using math.

Our lives are filled with real life "word problems." Knowing how to use math to solve real life problems can make our lives easier and happier.

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