Numberless word problems are math exercises that intentionally do not include numbers. They encourage students to understand the problem’s structure, context, and relationships before introducing numbers. This approach fosters deeper conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills, allowing students to think critically and gain confidence. These problems are a fabulous teaching tool for enhancing math fluency and promoting mathematical comprehension and problem-solving abilities. It’s a ridiculously simple, but WOW strategy for differentiating word problems…leaving blanks!
Below is a part/part/whole word problem. When I used this word problem in my classroom, I included numbers (I actually made this same problem with 3 different sets of numbers). I copied the right number of each number set and then, I placed the different levels (below, at, above) in colored folders for math centers). Students pull the problems out during Math by Myself and wrote about it in their math notebooks….it was A LOT of work. Worth it? Yes, because all my friends need a challenge…but still. Yesterday, I went back and replaced the numbers with blanks. Using this problem with blanks, allows me to see if my friends truly understand the idea of part, part, whole and if they can figure out numbers to make it workable.
- Student Choice: allow students to choose the numbers that go in the blank. This offers 2 assessments in one. First, students have to know to choose the ‘right’ numbers to make the problem workable, and then, they have to have the skills to actually solve the problem.
- Teacher Choice: leaving blanks allows you to choose different numbers for different students. For friends who aren’t ready for choice or as you’re just introducing a concept, you might offer 3 sets of numbers on the board. From there you can let students choose their own set or ‘randomly’ assign certain numbers to groups of students.
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