Homework Tips

Homework Help

Problem Solving Steps
Starting next week students will bring home word problems during the week to work on. Problem solving is an important math skill that children need to practice. Please help your child with the problem each week. Take some time and ask questions about the problem each week to help them learn to approach word problems in a systematic and confident manner.

The problem solving approach that I teach the children is called "UPSE". We pronounce it "up-see". This acronym will help the children remember each step of the process as we work our way through the problem. I highly encourage you to use these questions and steps with your student as you help with homework or other problems.

U - Understand the Problem
  • Read the problem. Read it again to make sure you really understand.
  • What is the problem telling me? (What information is already in the problem?)
  • What is the problem asking me to find out?
  • Students say or think: I need to find out....(what the problem is asking me)
  • Students say or think: I already know...(the information given in the problem)
P - Make a Plan and Predict
  • Think about what strategy would work best to help you find the answer. Predict what the answer might be. (Making a prediction now helps when it is time to evaluate the answer for reasonableness at the end.)
  • What strategy can I try to solve the problem? (Draw a picture or diagram, Make a chart or table, Guess and check, Work backwards, Make an organized list, Look for a pattern, etc.)
  • Students say or think: To get the answer, I can...(tell what strategy I will use)
  • Students say or think: I think the answer will be...(my prediction)
S - Solve the Problem
  • Try your plan and do the math to get an answer. If you get stuck, try a different strategy...but don't give up! Keep trying.
  • Students say or think: Here is my work...
  • Students say or think: To find my answer, I...(tell what I did)
E - Evaluate My Answer
  • Think about my answer. Does it make sense? Is it a reasonable answer, or does my answer not make sense? Give my answer in a sentence that uses words from the question.
  • Students say or think: My answer is...
  • Students say or think: My answer makes sense because...(explain why it is reasonable or not)
  • Students say or think: My answer doesn't make sense, so I need to go back and try again.

Problem Solving: When I Get Stuck
Sometimes when students are working their way through a word problem they get stuck and get frustrated. Here are some tips to try if you see your math wizard stuck on a problem while doing homework.
  • Write down any ideas you have.
  • Restate the problem in your own words. Can you put the problem in your own words?
  • Cross out any extra information in the problem that you don't need. Sometimes this can make it easy to see just what information or numbers you are working with.
  • Try substituting simpler numbers in the problem. Can you solve it then?
  • Take a break. Close your eyes, take a breath, clear your mind and try again.
  • Use manipulatives. Sometimes touching things and moving things around makes it easier to understand.
  • Talk the problem out with a partner.
  • Think about other problems you have solved. Is this problem like others you have done before? If so, could you solve it the same way?
  • Try a different strategy. Maybe a different plan would help.
  • Give yourself a pep talk. Don't give up! You can do this. Keep trying!