February 15, 2019
By Caitlin Hardeman

EL Support Lesson

Reflecting on Multiplication and Division Word Problems

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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Stepping Through Multiplication and Division Word ProblemsLesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Stepping Through Multiplication and Division Word ProblemsLesson plan.

Students will be able to apply word problem strategies to solve problems using multiplication or division.


Students will be able to analyze multiplication and division word problems using a graphic organizer and peer supports.

(2 minutes)
  • Invite the students to gather in a common area of the classroom, and facilitate a think-pair-share. Ask them to think about how they know which operation to use when they read word problems. Have them turn and talk to a partner and then share with the whole group. Prompt students to share that certain information and types of questions in the word problems give us clues about which operations we need to use in order to solve the problem.
  • Tell the class that they will be focusing on the information found in a word problem today to help them decide what operation they'll use and how they'll find the answer.
  • Share a student-friendly Language Objective with the class, and have them repeat it aloud.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that there are specific terms that are used when talking about multiplication and division, and that they'll need to know how to use them in conversation as they reflect upon word problems and explain their plan for solving them.
  • Teach the tiered words using the Vocabulary Cards. Display just the word, one card at a time on the document camera, and ask students to read it aloud. Then, have them turn and talk to a partner about what they think the word means. Provide sentence frames to support conversation, such as "The word ____Means ____." Then go over the definition and show the image to the group.
  • Explain to students that they will be looking at multiplication and division word problems today to figure out how to solve them. Elaborate that because there is so much information, they'll use a graphic organizer to help them.
  • Display a copy of the Reflecting on Story Problems worksheet and go through the questions. Add commentary about each of the sections as you review them.
    • What is happening in the problem? (Say, "If I can figure out what is happening in the problem, it helps me better understand the situation and what is being asked. I can even create a visual in my head to imagine what is going on in the situation.")
    • Is there any extra information I don't need? (Say, "Sometimes word problems have extra information in there to trick me. When I identify the information that doesn't matter, I can get rid of it and only focus on the information that matters. I can cross it off so it doesn't confuse me.")
    • What will the answer tell us? (Say, "This is an important part of understanding the problem. I have to figure out what the question is asking and what the answer means. For example, will the answer be the number of miles, the height of a building, the amount of time that has passed, or the length of an elephant's trunk?")
    • Will the answer be a big number or a small number? (Say, "I can predict if the answer will be a big or small number based on the numbers given to me in the problem and the operation I need to use. If I am multiplying, it will be a bigger number, but if I am dividing, it could be a smaller number.")
    • Is there anything else that seems important? (Say, "I have to read closely to pick out all of the important information that will help me solve the problem.")
  • Display a word problem on the board: Vera loves to have fun socks to wear to school everyday. She has 17 different pairs of socks. She has 10 pairs that have bright colors on them. How many socks does she have in all? ( 17 x 2 = 34)
  • Have students turn and talk to a partner about the word problem. Ask them to consider which operation, multiplication or division, is appropriate for solving this problem. Have them discuss which information is important and which is unimportant. Provide sentence stems and frames to support partner conversation:
    • I think we should use ____(multiplication/division) to solve this problem because ____.
    • ____Is important because ____.
    • ____Is not important because ____.
    • I am unsure about ____And how important it is because ____.
  • Model completing the graphic organizer for the word problem and think aloud about each of the questions on the worksheet. Use vocabulary words in your explanations.
(10 minutes)
  • Display another blank copy of the Reflecting on Story Problems graphic organizer on the document camera. Tell learners that you'd like them to help you complete the graphic organizer and talk through solving the word problem together.
  • Show the following word problem on the board: Chris has 28 rose bushes. He has 4 rows of rose bushes. How many rose bushes are in each row? (28 ÷ 4 = 7)
  • Read aloud each of the questions on the graphic organizer and have students turn and talk to a partner to share their thoughts. Then, call on volunteers to make suggestions. Record student answers on the graphic organizer. Do this for each question on the Reflecting on Story Problems worksheet, and then direct students to take out their whiteboards and whiteboard markers.
  • Instruct students to work with a partner to solve the word problem based on the class's analysis. Go over the answers as a class by calling on partnerships to share their thinking. Ask questions such as:
    • How was the graphic organizer helpful to you?
    • How can you restate your partner's strategy in a different way?
    • What would you like to add on to your partner's explanation?
    • Do you think this was the best strategy to use? Why?
    • Explain why multiplication/division was the correct operation to use in the word problem.
  • Distribute a copy of the Reflecting on Story Problems worksheet to each student, and divide the class into small groups of 3-4 students. Read aloud and display a new multiplication or division word problem, and give groups time to complete the graphic organizer.
  • Go over the graphic organizer as a class.
(10 minutes)
  • Give students time to complete the word problem on the back of their graphic organizer in their small groups.
  • Rotate around the classroom to engage in conversation with the groups to gauge student proficiency in solving the word problems. Note the vocabulary words that students use, as well as the strategies.
  • Complete a Whole Class Share Out activity in which each group shares the strategy they used with the class. Ask questions to prompt students to explain and share their reasoning:
    • How was this group's strategy the same or different from the strategy you used?
    • How was the graphic organizer helpful to you?
    • Who can restate ____'s strategy in a different way?
    • What would you like to add on to the group's explanation?
    • Do you agree or disagree with the strategy this group used? Why or why not?
    • Explain why multiplication/division was the correct operation to use in the word problem.


  • Allow access to reference materials in home language (L1).
  • Ask learners to repeat instructions and key vocabulary to the teacher.
  • Pair students intentionally based on academic and language needs.
  • Provide a paragraph frame during the partner activity for students to complete in order to write their own word problem.
  • Allow students to write their word problem in their L1.


  • Allow learners to utilize glossaries and dictionaries for unfamiliar words.
  • Encourage students to answer questions and participate in discussions without referring to the sentence stems or frames for support.
  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary, summarizing important information for the class.
  • Pair students with a Beginning EL so they can offer explanations and provide feedback when appropriate. If possible, pair students with the same L1.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students take out their whiteboards and whiteboard markers. Tell them that you will show them some word problems and they will write down one piece of information from the problem that they think is important.
  • Display one word problem at a time and after students display their answers, hold a class discussion about why they think that piece of information is important for solving the problem. Provide a sentence frame to support student sharing, such as "I think ____Is important because ____."
(3 minutes)
  • Display the following sentence frame and instruct students to turn and talk to a partner about how they'd complete the sentence: "I used to think ____, but now I know ____."
  • Circulate and listen to partner conversations, and then bring the class back together to share out the major points of learning from today's lesson.

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