## United 4 math: keywords for problem solving

Reading the problem is often the first step in solving a word problem. You must be able to translate words into mathematical symbols, concentrating on keywords that signify the mathematical procedures needed to solve the problem—both the process and the order in which the expression is expressed. You can convert English words into symbols, the language of mathematics, in the same way as you can translate Spanish into English. Many (if not all) of the keywords used to denote mathematical operations are well-known terms.
You start by converting English phrases into algebraic expressions. A set of numbers, variables, operations, and grouping symbols makes up an algebraic expression. You’ll use the variables x and n to represent an unknown number. A collection of parentheses is the most common grouping symbol, but brackets or braces may also be used.
When translating expressions, you should be familiar with the following basic keywords that translate to mathematical operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, which are covered in the four sections below.

## Subtraction key words

We want to do whatever we can as teachers to make teaching make sense, come alive, and “click” for our students. Unfortunately, in the name of the end goal, it’s all too tempting and try to teach our students tricks. However, in the long run, this is such a disservice!
Let’s take a look at a list of frequently learned word problem keywords and compare them to a progression of addition and subtraction word problems from K-2 to see whether learning these keywords would be beneficial to a student.
Keywords for addition are often used:
include
sumtotalplusandin allaltogetheraltogetheraltogetheraltogetheraltogetheraltogetheraltogetheraltogetheraltogetheraltogetheraltogether
Subtraction is often expressed as:
a distinction
removing
fewerfewerlesstookleftoverdifferenceaway
First and foremost, how well do the keywords hold up in Kindergarten?
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.OA.A.2 CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.OA.A.2 CCSS.MATH.
Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within ten, for example, by representing the problem with objects or drawings.
As a result, the criteria alone aren’t sufficient in determining what word problems look like at this stage. The progressions guide will help you understand what the criteria “look like.” Have you seen this graph before? I understand how difficult it is to read, so I’ve included a guide.

### Keywords for subtraction (from musical math vol. 2)

Caulleen is on the hunt for a breaking story for her school newspaper at the Academy of Magic. The school’s Turn Quitch Squad, according to reports, has been experiencing an unusual phenomenon: Brooms from the equipment room are mysteriously disappearing and reappearing hours later as if nothing had happened! We’ll need to find keywords for using addition and subtraction to crack this scenario.
Caulleen intends to begin her investigation by conducting an interview with Switch Quitch’s coach. She should begin with the fundamentals: Who was allowed to enter the equipment room? One of the new boys on the squad is in charge of supplies, according to the coach. But he can’t recall his own name. However, he is conscious that the total number of boys and girls on the team is 20. He knows this because the team’s total number of players was 16 last year and has risen by four this year. How will we convert this data into mathematical equations to determine the number of players on the team?
Look for keywords that indicate the correct operation to use when knowledge about math operations is presented in a word problem format. Let’s begin with the first fact that the coach shared with us. The team has a total of 20 players, both boys and girls. This is an addition problem, as the keywords ‘complete’ and ‘altogether’ suggest. We don’t know how many boys and girls there were, but we can describe them with the variables ‘b’ and ‘g.’ Finally, we realize that the total number is 20, so the equal sign is moved to the right.

### Let’s explore key words & clues to solve problems, part a

Reading the problem is often the first step in solving a word problem. You must be able to translate words into mathematical symbols, concentrating on keywords that signify the mathematical procedures needed to solve the problem—both the process and the order in which the expression is expressed. You can convert English words into symbols, the language of mathematics, in the same way as you can translate Spanish into English. Many (if not all) of the keywords used to denote mathematical operations are well-known terms.
You start by converting English phrases into algebraic expressions. A set of numbers, variables, operations, and grouping symbols makes up an algebraic expression. You’ll use the variables x and n to represent an unknown number. A collection of parentheses is the most common grouping symbol, but brackets or braces may also be used.
When translating expressions, you should be familiar with the following basic keywords that translate to mathematical operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, which are covered in the four sections below.