Problem solving is one of my favorite things to teach, but some of my little ones are having difficulty with the process this year. Although they can usually arrive at the correct answer, they aren't always able to explain what they have done or use another strategy to solve the problem. I have a few friends who still just want to write an equation and say "I'm done!" (These are the same students who have been "tutored" to memorize facts without really understanding the operations. A few can even recall multiplication facts, but have no real understanding of the concepts.) When asked to solve a problem in a different way, they may just show the answer in another format. I've even had a student just write several other equations that equal the same number as the answer that had no correlation to the problem at all.
When we started doing more complex problems- ones that didn't just ask for simple joining or "take away", many of my friends seemed to have trouble visualizing what the problem was asking. Our Think Math activity (click here to read more) is helping, and we have spent some time working with CGI problem types. This week we will focus on going through the steps of problem solving BEFORE considering the numbers. I'm hoping this will help those students who are stuck on one strategy visualize and approach problems in a different way.
Here's the powerpoint I created to guide us through our lesson on Monday. I'll be back later in the week to share how it went!
|Link to Powerpoint|
For more about how I've approached problem solving, check out this post, this post and this one from last year.