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Lesson Plan

QARs + Tables = Successful Comprehension of Math Word Problems

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Janet Beyersdorfer

Arlington Heights, Illinois


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, students apply the question-answer relationship (QAR) strategy to word problems that refer to data displayed in a table. By following the QAR framework, students can determine whether mathematical calculations are required to formulate a correct response. Students apply this learning to selected online census information comparing data collected in 1902 and 2002. In addition, they work in collaborative groups to apply and demonstrate the QAR strategy by creating their own word problems identifying the type of QAR for each question and providing an explanation for how the answer is reached.

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screenshot of Guide Sheet: Using QARs With Graphics Guide Sheet: Using QARs With Graphics: This printout gives students a handy guide to help them analyze question-answer relationships.

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Mesmer, H.A.E., & Hutchins, E.J. (2002). Using QARs with charts and graphs. The Reading Teacher, 56(1), 2127.

  • The QAR framework supports comprehension of a word problem that relates to a graphic or table displaying data.

  • By recognizing a variety of question types, students understand that a correct response might require analysis, manipulation, or computation of numerical information rather than identification of a number within the table.

  • Answering questions that relate to a graphic or table involves a complex, multistep process that includes understanding the question, determining how a response can be mathematically formulated, analyzing the graphic, and offering a response that rests upon sound mathematical principles.

  • Identifying the type of QAR supports mathematical reasoning skills and expands upon successful test-taking strategies.

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