A simple picture can go along way in helping your students solve an application problem. This is as true in pre-algebra as it is in calculus, however, representing the problem with a picture or diagram is often an overlooked step by students. The goal of the blog post is to help students see the value.
Drawing a diagram or other type of visual representation is often a good starting point for solving all kinds of word problems. It is an intermediate step between language-as-text and the symbolic language of mathematics. By representing units of measurement and other objects visually, students can begin to think about the problem mathematically. Pictures and diagrams are also good ways of describing solutions to problems; therefore they are an important part of mathematical communication. From Teacher Vision
Take one full class and introduce nothing but word problem with the emphasis on using pictures to capture the problem. Next, quiz students on this vary concept. Read aloud to them a word problem and have them represent it in a picture while at the same time labeling everything they know. Use some variation the following rubric when grading their work.
Quality of Representation 1 2 3 4 5
Proper Labeling of Parts 1 2 3 4 5
Unneeded Detail 1 2 3 4 5
Lets Call Upon Another Example From The Teacher Vision Article
Question: A frog is at the bottom of a 10-meter well. Each day he climbs up 3 meters. Each night he slides down 1 meter. On what day will he reach the top of the well and escape--From Teacher VisionHere is a possible representation of this problem.