1. Understand the problem: "I need to find out how many people went to the race."
2. Plan how to solve: "I will use place value."
3. Solve: The student writes the equation to solve at the top: 25 + 18 =?. She uses place value by adding the 10s: 20 + 10 = 30. Then she adds on the ones: 30 + 8 = 38, 38 + 5 = 43. Another way to solve is to add the ones together and then add the tens and ones.
4. Communicate the answer: "I found out that there are 43 people at the race."
Soon we will be adding a fifth step, to make connections to the math going on in the problem. Students have been impressing me with their ability to follow the problem solving steps, try flexible strategies, and be clear with their communication.