Numberless Word Problems

I have loved the work I have discovered on Twitter on Numberless Word Problems. Discussing word problems without including numbers is a great way to help students make sense of problems instead of making “number salad,” when they just toss the numbers around without any clear idea of how they relate.

This kind of sense-making is particularly important for kids with disabilities, who have often been exposed to key-word strategies which TEACH them not to make sense of the situation, but to pull the numbers out and use tricks to find out the operation. So, some kids have been TAUGHT to ignore their own sense-making in favor of a method that works about 40% of the time (keywords).

Numberless Word Problems are a great way to re-introduce sense-making, in tandem with Notice and Wonder problems, which also begin in sense-making rather than teaching kids to make number salad.

 has collected great posts from around the #MTBOS on numberless word problems, as well as sets of CGI story problems that begin without numbers, and gradually add them in.

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