Q&A #242

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Problem-solving

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From: keith stephens

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 1999121620:35:26
Subject: problem solving and lets actually say something

I have just read the original message and the replies and am still trying to find anyone who actually said anything. In my experience the trouble students have with solving problems is exactly the same. No-one actually tells them what to do. there are definite things people do to solve problems and we need to teach these processes as skills, not rely on the student to uncover them by accident. I say this because I am amethematician and it took me until I was about 40 to clewarly figure them out so what chance does a struggling student have. My bottom line is that the student has to do something My quote from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is "I'm better when I move" The student has to have steps to get him moving There are two main parts to my approach *The Word Problem Model Here the student outlines the problem according to the following format Topic Find Info/Formulas Diagram(If at all possible) The working out Answer the student checks reasonableness and if they have actually answered the question. The Writing of the Topic The Find And the Info formula is very mechanical and requires no great creative problem solving skills. So this gets the student moving, and often if not usually by the end of this section the student has formulated some approach to solving the problem. the second string to the bow is to supply the student with alist of strategies, these are introduced one at a time in relevant problems until a list of between 6 and 10 are available to the student typical strategies are *Break the problem down *Draw a diagram *Make a chart *Guess and Check *Try a simpler or related problem *write aword equation *Work backwards *Clean up your effort so far *Don't quit *look for patterns You can create your own list but I know you get the idea. As you can see there is no mystery in any of this, we just have to teach it as skill. So lets get busy. I appreciate any feed back Email kest49@aol

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