I’ve taught a few “number pluckers” in the past.

You too?

I’m not surprised! Number pluckers are those kids who, upon seeing a word problem, expertly “pluck” out the numbers and add them together.

Done!

I did it!

I *know *you are shaking your head and smirking right now. It’s an unavoidable rite of passage for all teachers to try and reach a number plucker.

You KNOW I want you to avoid using keywords to help these students… but what can you do instead?

Enter Numberless Word Problems!

#### What is a Numberless Word Problem?

Numberless word problem is a *bit* of a misnomer! These problems DO have numbers… we just aren’t taking a look at them right away.

When we create a numberless problem, our goal is to draw our students’ focus to the

*context*of a story problem rather than to the*numbers*in the problem.In presenting a numberless problem to your students you will slowly unfold the problem and ask questions which will prompt your students to attend to:

- The
*action*of the problem. - The
*information*they have been given. - The
*information*they may be missing. - The
*words*in the problem and what they mean or imply. - The
*question*or*questions*that could be asked or answered with that information.

Your number pluckers will have

**no choice**but to attend to the action of the problem- there is no other choice!#### How Do I Teach a Numberless Word Problem?

Begin by showing your students a context. No numbers. No question. Take a look at this example:

You and your students will read the context and you will prompt your students to discuss what they are seeing.

*What is happening in this story?**What could be the number of kids who started at the bus stop?**If more kids arrived is the number of kids at the bus stop getting larger or smaller?*

Next, you will show your students a *bit* more information. In this scenario, I added the number of kids who showed up at the bus stop.

*What new information do we have?**Could you draw a quick picture that shows what happened?**What information do we still need to know?*

You will finally reveal all of the numeric information in the word problem… but notice… there is still no question!

*What new information have we been given?**Can you draw a quick picture that shows what is happening now?**How did your picture change?**What question could we ask about this information?*

Lastly, you will add the question into the story and allow your students to solve. Still, you will want to conduct a conversation with your students!

*What operation do you think can help us solve this problem?**Could you draw a model that matches this story problem?**What question are you answering? Could you turn your answer into a statement?**What is your answer? Does it make sense?**How do you know?*

#### Is This Too Much of a Crutch?

No.

You are training your students to think about the context of word problems. This is a scaffold that is SO important for your students! Each grade level attends to specific problem types. Some are more straight forward (add to with a missing total for example) and some are much more difficult (a comparison word problem or a subtraction problem where the change is unknown for example).

These type of problems help our students learn to dissect a problem and think about the action and context so that they can be successful in the future!

Are you ready to give this strategy a try? Grab my free “Getting Started Guide” which includes problems to get you started today!

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