This is a course designed for students enrolled in a high school or college Algebra course who have difficulty with algebraic word problems and want to gain further skills and strategies in how to solve them. As I want to keep the focus on problem solving, I will not cover equation solving from scratch, i.e. assume the student has algebra skills such as equation solving, ability to use distributive property, etc.
The structure of the course is an introduction, followed by a tutorial in translating word problems to mathematical equations. Each lesson from that point covers a specific type of word problem, and the course finishes up with a wrap-up section including more advanced word problems.
Why take this course? I made this course because as a math teacher I have seen many good students hit roadblocks when it comes to solving word problems. I believe it doesn't have to be this way! I believe they can be easy, and even fun (ok maybe the fun part is just the math geek in me, but I do believe it).
The course will take as little or as much time to complete as you need :). The idea is it's there to supplement the traditional Algebra course, not to teach Algebra from scratch, so go at your own pace. If you feel you're good with money-based problems but need a lot of help in motion (rate-time-distance), feel free to skip ahead. Lessons do not depend on previous topics, so they can be viewed in any order, independently or together.
Before we delve into word problems, I feel that it's best to review algebraic expressions, as this will help us "translate" some of the language in word problems into mathematical expressions. I find one of students' biggest difficulties with word problems is going from problem description to equation. Here I will give basic overviews of how to do this.
Part 1 of Worksheet Solutions for Lesson 2
Part 2 of Worksheet Solutions for Lesson 2
Now that we've gotten more familiar with the algebraic expressions, it's time to "get our feet wet" with some of the more basic types of word problems. No trains leaving the station or two different types of acids yet, just getting comfortable with the basics.
Worksheet Solutions for Lesson 3
Well who doesn't have an "interest" in money, right? Ok, bad pun. But multiple investment problems are very common in algebra courses. We learn how to solve them and see that they're really not so different from the mixture problems coming in Lesson 5.
Continuation of Lecture 4
Continuation of Lecture 4
Worksheet Solutions for Lesson 4
Two different concentrations of acid? Mixed nuts? How many of each type of ticket? Yep, we're on it!
Part 1 of Worksheet Solutions for Lesson 5
Part 2 of Worksheet Solutions for Lesson 5
Well, we come to it at last! Have you ever asked yourself, "Who cares what time Train A left the station?!" Ok I think these are the types students dread the most, and the ones that I've seen the most frustrations with as a teacher. But have faith, you CAN learn to solve these, and arrive at Station B in time to drive to City C, or something like that...
Worksheet Solutions for Lesson 6
If one person can rake a lawn in 3 hours, and her friend can rake a lawn in 2 hours, then how many pancakes will fit on the roof? It's about getting the job done, and here we try to figure out the age old question of how many people it does take to screw in the lightbulb.
Worksheet Solutions for Lesson 7
In this final lesson, we wrap up by revisiting some previous techniques and solving some more advanced word problems, which may be seen in an Algebra II / Intermediate Algebra class.
Worksheet Solutions for Lesson 8 Part 1
I have been teaching College Mathematics and Statistics since 2006. I've taught college math courses ranging from Basic Math and Algebra to Precalculus, Calculus, and Statistics. My core belief is that math is everywhere, and should be accessible to everyone. I never accept the words "I'm just bad at math" because it IS within the reach of everyone!