This month, Transformation Tuesday featured math routines that can be used to boost student achievement. Last week, I featured math talk– a routine to get your students communicating about their thinking using mathematical language and terms. Check it out here! This week, Transformation Tuesday is featuring my last math routine– daily problem solving.
Hands down, my favorite part of teaching math is teaching problem solving! I love it so much, that it is always an integral part of my work with students. My problem solving routine generally takes about 15 – 20 minutes. While I am a big proponent of authentic problem solving, that which arises naturally through the content that we teach, I also realize that those opportunities do not always arise at the time they are needed. Therefore, I use this time to both model and reinforce how to solve problem solving tasks and the strategies we use to attain this goal. In addition, I also hold a word problem workshop throughout the week to model/reinforce how to analyze and successfully attack word problems. Stay tuned for more about this on Thursday!
During my problem solving routine, I either model how to address the task with a think-aloud or I ask the students to work individually, in pairs, or in small groups, depending on the difficulty of the task, to complete the work. If the students complete the task without my help, we debrief the task before moving on. I have students share their work by creating a solution strategy poster (see the picture to the right), review their work under the document camera, or talk through the steps they used to solve the problem.
While students are working and sharing their work, I ask them a series of questions to both deepen their thinking and extend their learning. This type of questioning is vital to help students develop the thinking skills necessary to be successful mathematicians. A copy of my “Open-Ended Questions Poster” can be found here.
I use a variety of resources to find problems. Great problem solving tasks can be found via the web, in supplemental materials, or in your textbook series. For word problems, the best tasks are the ones that include extra information or include a lot of information that could be used to answer multiple questions.
I have posted a few resources to share with you in the the “Problem Solving” section of my “File Cabinet.” There are several problem solving strategy packs to expand your students’ problem solving toolboxes, as well as, a few other goodies in there. Check out my problem solving file cabinet here!
Looking for more challenges? Check out my weekly “Solve It! Friday” feature right here on my blog. Check out my past challenges here! Happy Solving!
Sound Off! What math routines do you use?