Word problems. Those two words bring fear and loathing to a whole lot of people. Fortunately, those people aren’t 3rd graders – yet. They are still learning and growing and most of them don’t hate math or word problems. How we teach this skill is important. Word problems are life. They are the reason we need to know how to divide in the first place. So, how can we teach division word problems in 3rd grade so our students learn this life skill and hopefully not hate math?
How do you teach division word problems to third graders?
Children already know how to divide. It’s called sharing and they have been doing it since they were very young. Give them a handful of Smarties or jelly beans and tell them to share with their brothers and sisters. They can divide that small quantity equally.
This is why we begin teaching division in a concrete way using manipulatives. If students can touch and count the objects – they can divide.
It’s when we take division to the abstract level (word problems) that it becomes a challenge.
That’s why I teach my students to use this acronym: RUPSE.
R- Read – read the problem carefully
U – Underline – underline keywords and the question that is being asked
P – Plan – decide what mathematical operation is needed to solve it
S – Solve – solve it by showing all of your work
E – Explain – explain how you solved it
Here is an example of what using RUPSE looks like for students:
When students aren’t able to underline the keywords because they are using task cards, I tell them to jot down the important details and the question.
The key to success using this method is that you have to model it consistently. If you require them to use RUPSE every time they solve word problems, they will develop a routine. Better than that – they won’t be afraid of word problems – because THEY HAVE A PLAN.
In this post: 3 Ways to Use Division Word Problems in Your Classroom, I talk more about RUPSE and using division word problems in the classroom.
Solving Word Problems with Error Analysis
I love using error analysis with my students! Especially when I tell my students that they have to be like detectives – searching for clues and errors! They love it because now it is FUN. It’s a challenge that is more than just solving a word problem.
In this set of Division Word Problems Error Analysis Task Cards, students use the RUPSE method to help them solve division word problems that contain errors.
The layout of this True or False? Prove It! worksheet helps them continue to use RUPSE plus it gives them the math vocabulary they need when explaining how they solved the problem.
- The first step is always to READ.
- Underline/jot down the important details and the question.
- After drawing the picture, array, or equal groups to represent the problem – they can determine what the error is. In this case, 18 divided by 3 is 6, not 9.
- For the E in RUPSE, they will explain if the problem was true or false and how they solved it.
Having students write about their learning in math is priceless! It helps them to truly understand what and how they solved the problem and found the error.
Using these error analysis word problems adds a level of difficulty, but also a fun challenge. If you give students a framework for solving word problems like RUPSE – they can use it in any situation such as error analysis.
I hope this gives you a way to teach your 3rd graders how to solve the dreaded word problems by using RUPSE!
If you like these Division Word Problems Error Analysis Task Cards – you can find them in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!
I also have these fun error analysis task cards too!
- Multiplication Word Problems Error Analysis Task Cards
- Fractions Word Problems Error Analysis Task Cards