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Four-Step Problem Solving Process

First Grade

Four-Step Process for Problem Solving

- Teaches the importance of language within math

problems - Provides foundation for algebraic understanding
- Provides for differentiated instruction
- Developed in Singapore
- Visual representation of details and actions

which assists children with problem solving - Helps children logically think using visual

models to determine their computations - Fosters quantitative reasoning (number sense)

when teachers question - Empowers students to think systematically and

master more difficult problems - Makes 2 step problems easy to work

Four-Step Process for Solving Problems

Step 2-Details and Model Drawing

Step 1-Main Idea

- Main Idea of Question (What do you want to find

out?)

Step 4-How

Step 3-Strategy/Solve

- Describe how the problem was solved.

Solve the Problem

Four Step Process

- Main Idea
- Read the problem. What do you want to find out?
- Write the main idea from the question.
- Details or
- Write who the problem is about
- Write what the problem is about
- Use one Unifix cube to represent each what or

variable. - Then, draw the Unifix cube to represent one unit.
- Reread the problem one sentence at a time.
- Adjust the Unifix cubes and the drawing (model)

of the Unifix cubes to match the story problem

and label. - Put a question mark on the drawing, or model, to

show what you are trying to find out.

Model Drawing

Four-Step Process Continued

- 3. Strategy/Solve the Problem
- Write the number sentence and solve the problem.
- 4. How
- Describe how the problem was solved.

Addition

Action Put Together

Ann has 2 toys. Jeff has 3 toys. How many toys

do they have together?

Ann has 2 toys.

Jeff has 3 toys.

Step 2 Details and Model Drawing

Step 1 Main Idea

2

Ann- toys or A.T.

Toys together?

?

3

Jeff- toys or J.T.

Step 4 How

Step 3 Strategy/Solve

2 3

Add 2 and 3

5 sum

Andy and Henry went to the zoo.

Andy saw 4 .

Henry saw 5 .

How many animals did the 2 boys see?

Details

Main Idea

4

A. T. (Abbreviate for Andy-Turkeys) H. P.

(Abbreviate for Henry-Penguins)

animals 2 boys see?

?

5

Strategy/Solve

How

4 5

Put together 4 and 5

9 sum

Subtraction

Action Take Away

Amy has 4 toys. She gave away 1 toy. How many

toys are left?

How many toys are left?

Step 2

Step 1

4

X

A.T. (abbreviate for Ann- toys)

Toys left

1

?

Step 4

Step 3

4 - 1

Subtract 1 from 4.

3

Subtraction

Steve has 4 toys. Jill has 1 toy. How many more

toys does Steve have than Jill?

Step 1

Step 2

4

S.T. (Abbreviate for Steve Toys) J.T.

(Abbreviate for Jill-Toys)

More toys Steve than Jill

?

1

Step 4

Step 3

4 - 1

Subtract 1 from 4.

3 diff.

Ana has 3 cones.Leo has 4

apples.How many fewer cones are there than

apples?

Details

Main Idea

3

A.C.(abbreviate for Ana-cones) L.A. (abbreviate

for Leo-Apples)

fewer cones than apples?

?

4

How

Strategy/Solve

4 - 3

Subtract 3 from 4

1

Subtraction

Alex has 5 balls. Three are baseballs. The rest

are footballs. How many are footballs?

Step 2/ Details

Step 1/ Main Idea

5

A.B. (abbreviate Alex-Balls)

B

B

B

F

F

footballs

3

?

Step 4/ How

Step 3/Strategy (Solve)

5 - 3

Subtract 3 from 5.

2

Tips

- Be sure all the drawings of the Unifix cubes

(units) for each variable are touching each

other so comparisons are clearer. - In the drawing, list the variables in the order

they appear in the problem. - Include labels and brackets to help clarify

drawings. - Too often, students rush through a problem and

answer the wrong question. Placing the question

mark beside what you are trying to find helps to

prevent that.

Extra Information in Word Problems

- Sometimes there will be extra information in a

word problem. Try to keep students focused on

what the question is asking them to find. - If a child understands that the details are

usually what is needed to answer the main idea of

the question, he will be less likely to include

information that is not needed. - However, if the child includes the extra

information in the drawing, placing the ? in the

model will help them understand what information

is needed to answer the question.

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