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Algebra I: High School20 chapters | 168 lessons | 1 flashcard set

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Lesson Transcript

Instructor:
*Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer*

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Watch this video lesson to learn how you can use sketches and notes to help you visualize a problem. Watch how easy it becomes to solve your problem once you have visualized it.

The first step in solving word problems is to visualize them. If you can visualize your word problem, then you can better understand it. And if you can better understand your problem, then it will be easier to solve. Part of visualizing your problem is making sketches and writing notes of the important parts of the problem.

If you are a visual learner, once you can visually see a problem, then things start clicking and you can better solve your problem. This is what we are going to talk about in this video lesson. We are going to see how we can make sketches and write notes on our word problem to help us solve it.

We start with a word problem.

'John has six balloons that say 'congratulations' on them. Mary has ten balloons that also say 'congratulations' on them. Both John and Mary are going to a graduation party. They are bringing their balloons to the party. The host of the party already has two balloons that are ready. How many balloons total will there be at the party?'

We only want to sketch the important parts of the problem that will help us answer our problem. So we have to first figure out what kind of an answer our problem wants. For our problem, the last sentence tells us that the problem wants us to find the total number of balloons. So that tells us that the important part of the problem deals with balloons. When we sketch, we want to focus on the balloons. Okay. So let's re-read the problem to see where the balloons come into play.

'John has six balloons.' Stop. John has six balloons, so we can go ahead and draw six balloons. We continue reading. 'They say 'congratulations' on them. Mary has ten balloons...' Stop. Mary has ten balloons. Okay, so we draw another ten balloons. Let's keep our six balloons in one group and our ten balloons in another group.

We keep reading: '...that also say 'congratulations' on them. Both John and Mary are going to a graduation party. They are bringing their balloons to the party. The host of the party already has two balloons...' Stop. The host already has two balloons. So we draw another group of balloons that only includes two balloons. We keep reading: '...that are ready. How many balloons total will there be at the party?' We are done reading. There were no more balloons to draw. We've sketched all the important parts of the problem.

Now it's time to write our notes. We think about what our problem wants. It wants us to find the total. What mathematical operation will help us do that? Isn't it addition? So we can put plus signs in between our groups of balloons.

After the last group of balloons, we can put an equals sign telling us that this is the answer we are looking for. We can also write the number of balloons we have in each group. The first group has six, so we can write 'six' on top of that group. The next group has ten, so we write 'ten' on top of those balloons. The next group has two, so we write 'two' on top of that group. We've made notes of all our important parts now.

Now we can finish the problem. We see that in the process of making sketches and writing notes, we were able to come up with an equation that will help us to find our answer. We came up with 6 + 10 + 2 = (our answer). Solving this equation will give us our answer. So 6 + 10 + 2 = 18. Our answer is 18 balloons. There will be 18 balloons at the party. And guess what? We are done!

Let's review what we've learned now. We learned that the first step in solving word problems is to visualize it. Part of the visualization process involves making sketches and writing notes. We make sketches and write notes of only the important parts of the problem. To know what the important parts of the problem are, we first have to read the problem to find out what the problem is asking us to find.

Once we know what the problem wants, then we can go back and find the parts of the problem that have what we are looking for. In our example, the problem wanted us to find the number of balloons, so we went back and found the parts of the problem that specifically talked about the balloons that we were interested in. Once we sketch and write our notes, we are that much closer to solving the problem. In many cases, we will be able to clearly see how to find our answer when we are done sketching and writing notes.

You should be able to describe how to use sketches and notes to solve mathematical word problems after watching this video lesson.

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Algebra I: High School20 chapters | 168 lessons | 1 flashcard set

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