Lesson Plan:

Summertime Math Stories

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March 25, 2015
by Gabriela Lozano

Learning Objectives

Students will learn to locate and interpret important keywords when solving for a missing variable in a given world problem. They will learn to use the WIKED map as a solving strategy for word problems containing a missing variable.


Introduction (5 minutes)

  1. Begin the lesson by asking students an essential question, to gauge their prior knowledge of word problem strategies. One example is: What word problem solving strategies do you know?
  2. Invite students to answer as a class, or have them turn to a class partner for think-pair-share.
  3. Discuss answers as a whole group.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (15 minutes)

  • Continue the ongoing discussion by informing students that today they will learn a new strategy for solving math stories with missing variables.
  • As you explain this, write the following equation on the board: 23 – ___ = 18
  • Place an index card inside the blank spot within your equation and write the word “variable” inside of it.
  • Explain to the students that a variable is an alphabet letter used in math to represent a missing number. Take the index card off, and replace it with the variable y.
  • Explain to the students that their job today will be to solve math stories that have a missing number, or a missing variable.
  • Remind students that great problem solvers handle word problems like a detective who looks for clues to help them solve a mystery. One way to look for clues is to circle important keywords.
  • Review the Key Words Anchor Chart and use the following procedure to monitor for understanding:
  • Ask students to make a plus sign or a minus sign with their fingers for each of the keywords you say:
  • Total (+)
  • Altogether (+)
  • Fewer (-)
  • Continue this exercise until students feel confident with their understanding of the key terms and what they entail.
  • Draw a representation of the WIKED map on the board and write the following math story above it: Cara and Susan have a hat collection totaling 52 hats. If there are 12 hats in Cara’s house, how many are there in Susan’s house?
  • Use the WIKED map on the board to model how a student would use it to solve for the missing addend.
  • Repeat this exercise 2 times.

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (10 minutes)

  • Draw names from your name jar, or call students at random to participate in coming up to the board and solving for a missing variable using the WIKED map.
  • Repeat the exercise with two more students or as time permits.

Independent Working Time (20 minutes)

  • Provide students with a sheet-protected copy of the WIKED map, the Summer Time Math Stories handout, and dry erase markers.
  • Have students use dry-erase markers to use, and re-use the WIKED map as a solving strategy.
  • Once they feel comfortable with the map, ask students to generate their own word stories and exchange it with a partner for problem solving.



  • Enrichment: Challenge above level students by having them generate their own word problem stories with missing variables and having them exchange these with peers from their same level for problem solving.
  • At Level: Help approaching students by asking them to explain or justify their reasoning behind their answers by writing down a one to two sentence explanation for their answers inside the “Summer Time” handouts.
  • Support: Provide students below level with additional support by providing them with highlighters to help them identify the keywords and a 120 counting chart to serve as a visual aid.

Technology Integration

  • Teacher may project the WIKED Map or Summer Time Math Stories PDF on an interactive white board or projector.


Assessment (5 minutes)

  • Ask students to exchange their Summer Times Math Stories handout amongst each other for grading. Discuss answers as a whole group.

Review and Closing (5 minutes)

  • Prompt students to turn to their nearest classmate and discuss two things they learned in this lesson. For example: I learned that keywords help me understand whether I should add, subtract, multiply, or divide. I learned what the word “variable” means.

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