Today's soundtrack is *The Antlers: Hospice*.

This afternoon, I'm working on chapter 23 of *Basic Math & Pre-Algebra*, "Putting Mr. X to Work: Algebra Word Problems."

Algebra word problems "bring together a lot of what you know" (p. 311), which makes them a great exercise.

The first thing we want to do with an algebra word problem is to make it visual "by using a chart or picture" (p. 312).

There are "five steps for solving most algebra word problems:

1. Declare a variable.

2. Set up the equation.

3. Solve the equation.

4. Answer the question that the problem asks.

5. Check your answer" (p. 312).

To **declare a variable**, we need to identify what part of the equation is unknown. For example, I could say "let *c* = the number of Corollas at the Toyota dealership," or "let *r* = the number of roses at the flower shop." So we are giving a letter "a meaning by attaching it to a number" (p. 313).

To **set up the equation**, we plug our variable into our chart, then turn it into an equation with the numbers and variables that we have identified.

To **solve the equation**, we use the tools we've already learned.

To **answer the question**, we write out the answer to the original word problem, using the results of our equation.

To **check our work**, we plug in the results of the equation back into the original chart and make sure that everything adds up.

Another tip given is to choose variables carefully: try to choose variables that will allow you to multiply rather than divide, so that you can avoid dealing with fractions.