In fact, in 13 years of teaching I have only had 1 child fail math. I believe one of the reasons for this is that I focus a lot on key words. They help give kids an advantage over word problems.
If a student can find the key words in a problem, then, most of the time, they don't even have to read the rest of the problem to figure out what to do to solve the problem. Key words have made my students successful problem solvers and have significantly increased test scores. Before focusing on key words, my students who were low in reading would score well on everything except for word problems, but now they are finally able to show off their strengths in math!
Here are the main Key Words that are found in most Addition and Subtraction Word Problems.
I teach my students to remember the addition key words by using the word BAITS. And Subtraction is as simple as 3-2-1 3-M's, 2-L's, 1-CDF. When I start teaching multiplication, which usually happens a month or so after solving word problems with addition and subtraction, we use the word PEGS. I teach kids to write these words on their scratch paper any time we are problem solving.
You should find the following notes in their notebook's math section:
Ask them key words in the car, at Wal-mart, at the ball field...when ever you get a chance. I promise it will do amazing things.
See my PowerPoint presentation below to see how I teach kids to solve word problems:
Get your Game On!