Word problems were always a struggle for my students. It was like pulling teeth to get them to write more than just the answer. Almost three years ago, I created this acronym to help my students think through, represent problems, and show all of the work when they are solving word problems. The students love it, and I never have any problems getting the students to show their work and their thinking. And if I do have any problems, I just say “Show the Love!” or “Where is the Love?”
The LOVE stands for:
L: Labels. The students label all numbers and visuals included.
O: Our Thinking. The students write their answers in complete sentences and provide an explanation and justification. We begin the year just writing in a complete sentence and eventually add the explanation and justification part in. Read more about how I teach my students to justify their answers in math here.
V: Visuals. The students include any visuals or models that they used to represent the situation described, solve the problem, or that are used to prove their answer.
E: Equation. The students include all equations used to solve the problem.
I always begin teaching this strategy by creating a class anchor chart with a word problem. Here is the anchor chart and problem that I used last year:
Sometimes if I have a class that struggles with word problems and math in general, I teach this method of showing and proving their answer with a simpler word problem. This way the focus is on learning the method and not the math. I usually go down to a basic math fact problem when I teach this to struggling students or 4th grade students.
I give my students a smaller poster that details out the strategy for their interactive notebooks. As we work through the problem, we refer to the LOVE strategy and each part. The students glue the poster and then record the example problem in their notebooks, with all of the LOVE shown.
Here are some pictures from this year’s lesson.
From this lesson on, the students are required to Show the Love on every word problem they complete, from homework to classwork to assessments. They refer to the poster and the problem we completed together to help them as needed. It does take a few times of practice before they get the hang of it. However, once they have it, they reall soar with word problems.
We use my Interactive Math Notebooks: Word Problems Resource weekly to give the students much needed practice with showing the LOVE. Here are some images from this year:
If you are interesting in checking out the word problems we use for regular practice, click here to see my Interactive Notebook Word Problems for 4th grade and here for the 5th grade version. Want to try some for free? Click here or on the image below to try out some Interactive Math Notebook: Word Problems for free! These word problems are multi-step and use whole numbers only. For more multi-step word problems for interactive notebooks, click here.
Click here to download a copy of the poster that explains the LOVE strategy.
Added 9/3/16: I recently created some posters to hang on my wall and place on a ring to help me when I am teaching this strategy in small group. Click here or on the image below to download the posters (black and white backgrounds included).
How do you get your students to show all of their work on their math word problems?
Need more help with word problems? Click HERE to read about eight strategies that I use to help my students become successful with word problems.