Tackling word problems in partners!


Happy Tuesday!  The temperatures where I live have plummeted…once again…but I am still in a great mood today!  First, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sale this Thursday and Friday, and I am looking forward to shopping!

Graphic by Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs

Second, we worked on word problems today in math, and the partner strategy I tried out actually worked really well!  I say “actually” because some of my kiddos have really struggled with word problems this year.  Really struggled.  It’s more of a reading comprehension issue for them, so I wanted to figure out a way to help them break down and understand the problems.  I’ve recently been thinking about implementing reciprocal teaching for my readers who struggle with comprehension (read more about reciprocal teaching HERE), and I started wondering if I could make something similar work for math.  I came up with this set of procedures for 2 math partners.


You can click on the picture to download it for free.  Here’s an example of what it would sound like.

Sample word problem:  Sally goes to the market.  She buys 23 pieces of fruit and 12 vegetables.  How many fruits and vegetables did she buy altogether?

Student 1:  Reads the above problem out loud.

Student 2:  Says, “Sally goes to the store and buys some fruits and vegetables.  The problem is asking us how many fruits and vegetables she bought in all.”

Student 1:  “I agree!  I think we should add 23 and 12 together to solve the problem.”

Student 2:  “Good idea!”

Both students work on the problems on their papers.  They then check their answers together before moving onto the problem.  The students switch roles for the next problem.

I hope that all made sense!  I am really happy with how this turned out for my kiddos.  It helped them avoid the “blank stare at the page” habit that some of them had developed when it came to word problems.  I’m looking for a catchy name for the strategy…if you think of one, comment below!!

Happy teaching!


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Mezzyrose Ramos
7 years ago

I love this activity!!! Thank you for sharing!

Mrs. O
6 years ago

Question. How do I use this with struggling students who are all at about the same reading level? If I am part of the this strategy doesn’t this defeat the purpose of this strategy? Finding materials with their reading level for math assignments do not match the common core curr. standards so what am I to do? There is little to no time to create my own materials.
Any suggestions?


I’m Alison, a literacy specialist. I love getting kids excited about reading and writing – and sharing teaching ideas with other teachers!

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