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Act-It-Out

In this strategy, students read a word problem and act out what is happening in the problem. They should do this one sentence at a time. It is also helpful if the teacher or another student video record their classmate so the student(s) can watch it and have a discussion, even watching different students act-it-out in different ways. After (or during) act-it-out, have students solve the problem. It may be helpful to have students work in small groups and have someone act out while others write/solve the problem. It is also a good strategy to “fishbowl," meaning have students sit in a circle (they are the observers) and others go in the middle (the performers) to act-it-out. Then discuss what they noticed or how to solve the problem.  
 
 
This was where I really focused on getting students to understand the difference between the four mathematical operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. We began slowly with one step word problems and smaller numbers.  I had students act-out an operation and we would discuss what happened. This action would then be charted and practiced daily. We came up with common terms to use that helped describe the action of each operation. It is best to do this one operation at a time, then gradually do two operations and build up to all four. It also helps to compare operations. For example, try comparing just addition and multiplication at first, then addition and subtraction. I would have students practice sharing their own word problems that they created.
 
Here you can see more of the charting we did about each operation's action:

Addition

Subtraction

Multiplication

Division

  • Joining together
  • Putting together
  • Combining
  • Taking out
  • Sharing
  • Taking away
  • Giving away
  • Joining EQUAL groups
  • Adding EQUAL groups
  • Putting together EQUAL groups
  • Taking out EQUAL groups
  • Taking away EQUAL groups
  • Sharing EQUAL groups