The fourth component of my math block is problem solving. This component of “Math with Ms. Routt” 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.
During this time, I either model how to address the task with a think-aloud or I ask the
|Solution Strategy Poster
students to work individually, in pairs, or 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 picture to the right), review their work with the document camera, or talk through the steps they used to solve the problem. 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 is a problem solving strategies pack to expand your students’ problem solving toolboxes, two packs which include a structure for analyzing word problems, and a problem solving task from one of my holiday packs (Note: you can make this an everyday task by changing the holiday words to everyday words). Click here to check out my file cabinet!