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Q&A #242

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Problem-solving

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From: keith stephens <kest49@aol>
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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