Problem Solving [PS]

Problem Solving [PS]

Problem Solving

Link back to Sr. High Math


(The Alberta 10-12 Mathematics Program of Studies with Achievement Indicators 2008, Alberta Education)

"Students need to explore mathematics through solving problems ..." (pg. 2)

"The main goals of mathematics education are to prepare students to: solve problems, etc." (pg. 4)

"Students develop a true understanding of mathematical concepts and procedures when they solve problems in meaningful contexts." (pg. 8)

"If students have already been given ways to solve the problem, it is not a problem, but practice." (pg. 8)


Thoughts on Problem Solving

If at all possible, I try to facilitate problem solving by avoiding direct instruction and have students work on problems and investigations that guide them toward certain conclusions.
I frequently have students working in small groups on the board to solve a problem in order to promote an environment of taking risks, asking questions and posing conjectures.

The following examples ask students to look for patterns and then make conclusions.

Lesson Flow
In the flow of my lessons I often present a problem first and then debrief with the students afterward.  It is often amazing what the students can come up with when presented with a problem and then their work can be a basis for discussion during the debrief.  The debrief time also provides a time to formalize their work and I find the class is usually more interested in what you have to say since they are invested in the problem.  The following are some example problems I've used:

Dan Meyer has also proposed a method called 3 Acts to help engage students in problems.  Find a description of 3 Acts here and examples here.

Applying Assignments
Applying Assignments are usually made up of problems that the students have not seen before and allow them to apply their skills.  A description of Applying Assignments is available here.

Last modified: Monday, 9 September 2013, 9:02 AM