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Lesson Plan

Solving the Math Curse: Reading and Writing Math Word Problems

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Solving the Math Curse: Reading and Writing Math Word Problems

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Valerie A. Adair, M.Ed.

Willow Grove, Pennsylvania


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



This lesson uses the four modalities of reading (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) on a math word problem to bridge the gap between reading and math. After a read-aloud from the book Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, students create their own word problems with answers. Students solve each other's problems. As they reread the word problems, fluency and comprehension increase. Finally, students use the skills they've learned creating word problems to complete a crossword puzzle. As students read the math concept words presented in thepuzzle and write the correct answers, their reading and writing math vocabulary skills increase.

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Crossword Puzzles: Students will use what they learn about solving word problems in this fun and interactive online tool.

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Biddle, M. (2007). When opportunity knocks: Integrating language arts and the daily calendar. The Reading Teacher, 60(5), 488491.

  • Modeling is an important form of classroom support for literacy learning. When the teacher reads the story to students using questioning techniques, the teacher engages students and conveys a purpose for reading. Explicit modeling is achieved as the teacher shows students a way to approach the task of writing their own word problem.

  • Integrating language arts and math incorporates reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills as students listen to the word problems during the read-aloud, share their knowledge, provide feedback to their classmates, and write their own word problems for classmates to share.

  • The rereading strategy helps students improve fluency as they share their knowledge and provide feedback to their peers.


Ward, R.A. (2005). Using children's literature to inspire K8 preservice teachers' future mathematics pedagogy. The Reading Teacher, 59(2), 132143.

  • Children's books present interesting problems and illustrate how other children solve these problems.

  • Literature can provide the means to integrate math and language skills as children learn to listen, read, write, and solve the math problems.


Bresser, R. (2004). Math and literature: Grades 46 (2nd Ed.). Sausalito, CA: Math Solution Publications.

  • As children read nonfiction books, they listen to the facts about a particular subject. The information is assimilated into what the children already know. Instead of reading the book from cover to cover, students read a small portion of the story, and then they investigate the subject matter presented.

  • As students listen to the story Math Curse they will use it as a springboard for writing their own word problems.

  • Writing their own word problems based on the problems in Math Curse can be motivating for students as well as an excellent way for the teacher to integrate math vocabulary and reading.

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