A Sample Student Lesson Plan for Writing Story Problems

Concentrated girl writing while sitting at desk in classroom
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This lesson gives students practice with story problems by teaching them how to write their own and solve the problems of their classmates. The plan is designed for third-grade students. It requires 45 minutes and additional class periods.

Objective

Students will use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to write and solve story problems.

Common Core Standard Met

This lesson plan satisfies the following Common Core standard in the Operations and Algebraic Thinking category and the Representing and Solving Problems Involving Multiplication and Division subcategory.

This lesson meets standard 3.OA.3: Use multiplication and division within 100 to solve word problems in situations involving equal groups, arrays, and measurement quantities, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.

Materials

  • White paper
  • Coloring pencils or crayons
  • Pencil

Key Terms

  • Story problems
  • Sentences
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division

Lesson Introduction

If your class uses a textbook, choose a story problem from a recent chapter and invite students to come up and solve it. Mention to them that with their imaginations, they could write much better problems, and will do so in today's lesson.

Instruction

  1. Tell students that the learning target for this lesson is to be able to write interesting and challenging story problems for their classmates to solve.
  2. Model one problem for them, using their input. Begin by asking for two student names to use in the problem. "Desiree" and "Sam" will be our examples.
  3. What are Desiree and Sam doing? Going to the pool? Getting lunch at a restaurant? Going grocery shopping? Have the students set the scene as you record the information.
  4. Bring the math in when they decide what is going on in the story. If Desiree and Sam are getting lunch in a restaurant, maybe they want four pieces of pizza, and each piece is $3.00. If they are grocery shopping, maybe they want six apples at $1.00 each, or two boxes of crackers at $3.50 each.
  5. Once the students have discussed their scenarios, model how to write a question as an equation. In the above example, if you want to find the total cost of the food, you may write 4 pieces of pizza X $3.00 = X, where X represents the total cost of the food.
  1. Give students time to experiment with these problems. It's very common for them to create an excellent scenario, but then make mistakes in the equation. Continue working on these until they are able to create their own and solve the problems that their classmates create.

Assessment

For homework, ask students to write their own story problem. For extra credit, or just for fun, ask students to involve family members and get everyone at home to write a problem, too. Share as a class the next day—it's fun when the parents get involved.

Evaluation

The evaluation for this lesson can and should be ongoing. Keep these story problems bound in a three-ring binder in a learning center. Continue adding to it as students write more and more complex problems. Make copies of the story problems every so often, and collect these documents in a student portfolio. The problems are sure to show the students' growth over time.