top of page

Keywords for Math Word Problems: A Bad Strategy?


Back in college I took a course called Teaching Math In Elementary School. One of our assignments was to create an anchor chart of different strategies for teaching word problems. I don't recall what my group came up with, but at least half of the class made handy reference posters showing "math keywords" for solving word problems. Apparently this was A-ok with our professor because they were hung all around the room.


You know the kind of posters I'm talking about. Ones like this with specific words students should look for and circle in their story problems...


Teachers still have anchor charts like this and still teach kids to use clue words for all types of problems in math. I'm here to tell you to stop, or at least be very careful when teaching this as a problem solving strategy. There are far more effective ways for students to solve a math problem and arrive at the correct answer.