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Many students are challenged when tasked to complete a word problem. While they may know the procedural steps to solve an equation, translating a word problem into an appropriate equation and producing a solution may often cause students to become confused or unwilling to try. This article provides a potential solution for teachers by discussing the use of a simple mnemonic tool to help organize the process. Mnemonics are a useful and effective strategy to help students with learning disabilities remember information and process steps. In the strategy presented, the mnemonic PIES is used to describe a 4-step process for solving word problems in which the acronym is described as P=Picture (draw a simple sketch) based on the situation described by the word problem), I=Information (circle key words in the problem and write next to picture), E=Equation (find an equation that fits the information), and S=Solve (solve the equation to produce an answer). PIES has been successfully used with all students in an inclusive high school Physics classroom, as well as self-contained high school science classes. Suggestions and an example for teachers are included.
Heater, Mary Jane; Howard, Lori A.; and Linz, Ed
"Solving Word Problems: As Easy as PIES!,"
Journal of Science Education for Students with Disabilities: Vol. 16
, Article 3.
Available at: http://scholarworks.rit.edu/jsesd/vol16/iss1/3