EL Support Lesson

Word Problem Creation

Have students show their understanding of various operations within word problems in this lesson! Use this lesson as a standalone lesson or as support for the lesson Mixed Word Problems with RDW Strategy.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Mixed Word Problems with RDW Strategy lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Mixed Word Problems with RDW Strategy lesson plan.

Students will be able to solve mixed operation word problems using the RDW strategy.


Students will be able to create and explain one-step word problems using a graphic organizer and partnerships.

(3 minutes)
  • Gather background information from students by writing the following sentence on the board and asking students to write an expression on their whiteboards: "I have seven times more jellybeans than Sandra's eight jellybeans."
  • Have students read the problem themselves and write the expression.
  • Choose a student volunteer to read the sentence aloud and then ask students to share their expressions with their partners.
  • Tell volunteers to share how they knew the expression should be 7 x 8. ("I know I have the right answer because 'seven times' means multiplication and the eight represents the amount of jellybeans Sandra has.")
  • Explain to students today they will create scenarios, or word problems, surrounding different operations to show their understanding of the relationship between the numbers and a specific operation.
(7 minutes)
  • Present some of the vocabulary terms, such as operations, suggestions, expressions, and word problems. Define them for the students and ask them to repeat the definition.
  • Choose students to use the words in a sentence. Then, tell them to give suggestions for the students' sentences ("I like how you said ____. I would add ____.").
  • Review all the operations and ask students to help you create expressions (e.g., 28 + 291).
  • Group all the expressions with the same operation and ask volunteers to say the expressions aloud.
  • Tell students they'll use some of these expressions later in the lesson.
(8 minutes)
  • Write another expression with a different operation, such as 12 ÷ 2 and say an everyday scenario relatable to your students to accompany it.
  • Display the Co-Craft Situations: A Word Problem Activity worksheet and place 12 ÷ 2 in Box A. Complete the worksheet as a class making sure to ask for student input and ask clarifying questions (e.g., "Why would you do...?" or "What do you think about...?").
  • Solicit suggestions on how to solve the expression and follow their suggestions, correcting misconceptions as you go. Use sequencing words as you restate the information.
  • Ask students to help you create a visual to represent the equation using an everyday, relatable example 12 ÷ 2 = 6 (e.g., draw a picture of 12 stick figures and then separate them into two groups of six to create basketball teams).
  • Have students verbalize what you drew in the picture with a partner. Choose students to share out their answers.
  • Write down one student's phrase, or their word problem, in Box C. Then, model asking clarifying questions from the student whose word problems you chose as seen in Box D.
  • Ask the class to offer suggestions or notes to write based on your clarifying questions. For instance, you could say, "My partner suggested I add more details about what represents the number 12 in the equation." Write some sentence stems on the board for student reference.
  • Tell students to turn and talk to their partner about how they would solve the word problem. Ask for volunteers to share their answers. Students should come to the understanding that adding additional details to the initial expression 12 ÷ 2 provided more input on what the numbers could represent.
(12 minutes)
  • Distribute a new Co-Craft Situations: A Word Problem Activity worksheet and ask students to work in pairs creating their own word problems. Encourage them to use some of the expressions they created in the Explicit Instruction section to get them started quickly.
  • Have each pair complete their own worksheet but share the same information with each other.
  • Tell partners to continue to use the clarifying questions you modeled when their partner offers a suggestion they might not understand, or if they want to offer more input. List some of the following examples and model using the ones you haven't used before:
    • "Why would you add ____?"
    • "Can you give me more details about ____?"
    • "What do you think about ____?"


  • Allow students to use their home language (L1) or their new language (L2) in all discussions. Provide bilingual reference materials to assist in their vocabulary word acquisition.
  • Encourage them to use the vocabulary cards and terms in their conversations and writing. Allow them to draw pictures to support their understanding of the terms.
  • Provide sentence stems for all the writing and oral portions of the lesson.


  • Pair students with mixed ability groups so they can offer explanations and provide feedback to beginning ELs when appropriate.
  • Encourage them to create more complex word problems with more numbers in their expressions or more details depending on their mathematical mastery of the concept.
(7 minutes)
  • Distribute a sheet of copy paper and conduct a 3-2-1 activity. Ask students to label their papers 1–3. Have students write:
    • Three expressions using different operations
    • Two sentences about the expression (i.e., the word problem)
    • One question they have about writing word problems
(3 minutes)
  • Choose volunteers to share their questions and ask other students to answer the questions. Correct misconceptions as necessary.
  • Tell students that being able to create a word problem for an expression shows their understanding of operations and that understanding will help them solve word problems they did not create.

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