Lesson 11

All About Tape Diagrams

Lesson Purpose

The purpose of this lesson is for students to make connections between story problems, equations, and tape diagrams. 

Lesson Narrative

In previous lessons, students analyzed and solved story problems.

In this lesson, students match story problems with tape diagrams and equations and write stories based on a tape diagram (MP2). The words in each story need to be interpreted carefully in order to decide which equation is the best match. For most problems, there is a choice for students to make because the problems can be represented and solved with either addition or subtraction. Likewise, tape diagrams can often be interpreted in multiple ways, either as showing addition or showing subtraction.

The lesson synthesis highlights how a tape diagram can help to students make sense of a story problem and decide on a method to solve the problem.

  • Action and Expression
  • MLR8

Learning Goals

Teacher Facing

  • Write and interpret story problems using diagrams and equations.

Student Facing

  • Let’s match diagrams, story problems, and equations.

Required Materials

Materials to Copy

  • Represent Story Problem Cards

Required Preparation

Activity 1:

  • Create a set of cards from the blackline master for each group of 2.

CCSS Standards


Lesson Timeline

Warm-up 10 min
Activity 1 20 min
Activity 2 15 min
Lesson Synthesis 10 min
Cool-down 5 min

Teacher Reflection Questions

Students have used tape diagrams to interpret different situations. How have these diagrams helped your students interpret story problems? How can you leverage the connections students make between story problems, diagrams, and equations when they solve problems in upcoming lessons?

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