US v. IT - A Problem Solving Strategy with Interactive Organizer

The US versus IT problem solving strategy can help students breakdown the problem, create a plan, follow through with the plan, and check that their solution makes sense. This strategy, and downloadable interactive organizer, can be used in multiple content areas, and gives students voice and choice for how they want to show their thinking and final solution. As a secondary math teacher, I use this in my classroom to help students tackle difficult word problems.

What is US v. IT?

  1. Understand: What is the problem asking? Any vocabulary that I don’t know? What information is given? What is missing?
  2. Strategize: What strategies could I use? What strategy is the best for me?
  3. Implement: Refer to your plan in the strategize section and put it into action!
  4. Tie-Together: Present your solution with a proper label and in a format that makes sense. Double check that your solution answers the question that was asked.  


Interactive Organizer

This organizer has a space for each of the steps in the US versus IT plan and provides a space for students to put their thoughts down in whatever way they choose. They have the choice to type out their thoughts, record their voice, or even write it out. Students can use a variety of tools in the Numbers app to follow through with their strategy, like using shapes to illustrate the problem or just having an infinite canvas to be able to guess and check until they get the right answer. There are also tabs that provide a refresher on what the US versus IT strategy is and how to access the variety of tools in Numbers.

There are benefits for teachers using this interactive organizer as well. One benefit is that once the teacher types the problem in the space on the Understand tab, it will copy and paste it to all of the other tabs. Another benefit would be providing access for all students. Teachers can record themselves reading the problem out loud to provide an auditory option for students to process the problem. Teachers are also providing students the choice on how they want to show their thinking, which increases engagement.  


Example of what a completed organizer might look like, including text boxes, handwriting, and recorded audio to show thinking

How could you use this interactive organizer in your classroom?



1 reply

July 17, 2024

Like math operations on fractions, word problems can give so much anxiety to students learning math... great to know your strategy in streamlining how to answer word problems with our students.

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