October 11, 2018
by Jennifer Sobalvarro

Lesson plan

Mixed Word Problems with RDW Strategy

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

(3 minutes)
  • Display the example problem from the Word Problem Solving Template: Read-Draw-Write (RDW) worksheet. Distribute sticky notes to each student and ask them to write on their sticky note observations that they have about the strategy used to solve the problem.
  • Ask students to share with their partner some of the observations they have (e.g., they are drawing pictures to prove their answers, they are writing their answer in a sentence, they solved their answer under the drawing, etc.).
  • Explain that while this word problem is easier than what they will solve in the lesson, they will use the same strategy or process to solve their own word problems today.
(7 minutes)
  • Tell students today they'll use the RDW strategy to solve their word problems. That means they'll read the problem a few times, draw a picture showing the information, and then write an expression and sentence that shows the answer. Emphasize that this is a strategy that helps them think through all the information and understand the problem and solution.
  • Write the following word problem on the board: "Jashawn baked 10 cookies that weighed 0.5 ounces each. He gave away 1/2 of the cookies to his friends. How many ounces of cookies did he have leftover?"
  • Model solving the problem using the RDW strategy and think aloud all the reasons for the decisions you make. Explain how you got 2.5 ounces as the answer.
  • Ask students if they could have solved the problem with a different expression than what you chose. For example, two possible expressions could be (10 x 0.5) − (5 x 0.5) or (10 x 0.5) − (0.5 + 0.5 + 0.5 + 0.5 + 0.5).
(25 minutes)
  • Ask a student to recap your process to solve the word problem.
  • Have them turn and talk to their elbow partner about the steps they need to follow to solve word problems on their own. Ask for a volunteer to discuss the steps needed to solve the problems and write the steps on the board for them to follow as they work on their problems in pairs:
    1. Read and reread the problem.
    2. Draw a picture to represent the information given (e.g., part-part-whole diagram, tape diagrams, pie representation, etc.).
    3. Write an expression/equation that represents the information.
    4. Write a sentence about your answer.
  • Have students complete a carousel activity with the chart papers posted around the room. Create five groups and assign each group to one poster. Have students work together to solve the problem using the RDW strategy. After five minutes, have the students rotate to the left and review the other groups' charts. Have them adjust the group's answers on the chart paper using a colored pencil and then rotate again to the left to evaluate another chart paper if time remains.
  • Make sure that during the last five minutes that remains students go back to their original chart paper to review potential adjustments.
  • Ask volunteers to share their observations about things they changed, patterns they see in each others' work, or general observations.
  • Choose one or two groups to present their chart papers. Choose a group that had a lot of corrections or one that had a more complicated problem that everyone would benefit from discussing aloud.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the Income and Expenses worksheet and instruct students to complete the first set of questions (i.e., question #1) on their own. Have them follow the the RDW strategy steps to show their thought process.
  • Allow students to share their answers with their partners once they've completed the problems. Make sure they can explain how they've solved the problems.
  • Have one to three students share their struggles or successes with the class. If you notice there's a problem that a lot of the students have struggled with, allow an advanced student or volunteer to explain their answer and process.


  • Allow students to use manipulatives and any method they choose to solve their word problems (e.g., tape diagrams, number lines, bar models, etc.).
  • Have students work in partners instead of groups during the guided practice portion.
  • Provide word problems that are relatable to them and that they can visualize or draw easily. Read the word problems for the students a few times and then allow them to work on solving the problems on their own.
  • Provide sentence frames and a key words list for the student explanations throughout the lesson.


  • Pair them with struggling learners and ask them to explain their process to the students.
  • Choose students to speak about their chart papers and to follow up during the presentations with clarifying questions.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students to complete the second problem from the Income and Expense worksheet. Have them use their copy paper and number their problems so they can easily find their work.
  • Have them follow the steps for the RDW strategy listed on the board.
(5 minutes)
  • Allow a few students to share their assessments aloud and have the other students ask follow-up questions.
  • Conduct a poll about using the RDW strategy with word problems. Ask students to put their thumbs up if they think the strategy helped them, thumbs down if it doesn't help them, and thumb sideways if helped them somewhat.
  • Ask students to talk to their partner about how the RDW strategy can be helpful with solving simple expressions too.

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