Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Problem SolvingSession 03 OverviewTab atab btab ctab dtab eReference
Part A

Observing Student Problem Solving
  Introduction | Which Group Paid More? | Problem Reflection #1 | Sharing-Division Word Problem | Problem Reflection #2 | Classroom Practice | Observe a Classroom | Summary | Your Journal


Problems with a rich context help students make sense of difficult mathematical ideas and problem-solving strategies. The context and the level of difficulty of the problem encourage students to interact with one another, develop number sense, work with representations, and make multiple attempts at solutions. A rich context can also motivate students, and it may serve as a springboard to further lessons on related ideas.

We've just observed some problem-solving strategies used by upper elementary students. Here are some other common strategies:

  • Make a diagram or picture
  • Use models
  • Make an organized list
  • Try easier numbers or a simpler problem
  • Generate and eliminate possibilities
  • Look for a pattern
  • "Guess and check" -- try things and see if they work
  • Work backward
  • Act it out (that is, do a skit or use people as manipulatives)
  • Use an equation or a number sentence

Some of these strategies will be further explored in this session.

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