Every year in problem solving I begin with this sheet on how to problem solve and my general expectations. We go over the sheet and have fun doing it. I get the kids to interpret the cartoons and how they relate to problem solving. They always enjoy them. I found the comics on the internet quite a few years ago and tried to find them again but couldn't. I wish I could give credit to the sources but at least the signature of the artists are on the comics.
We then do a problem together so that they can see my expectations but in general I want to understand their thinking. I ask them to let me know the strategy or strategies that they used, show the work (which sometimes means reorganizing it so that I understand it), and then give a proper answer. Strategy, Work , Answer are my expectations and the kids don't find it too hard or onerous that they won't do it.
We also add to the strategies list as we work through problems throughout the year but these strategies are a good starting point and allow me to demonstrate how they are used.
1. What is this question asking?
Make sure you read the question carefully and that you understand what the problem is.
2. Choose a good strategy!!
· Look for a Pattern
· Make a list or chart
· Draw a picture
· Work backwards
· Guess and Check
· Use Logic
· Act it out
3. Do the Work.
Solve the problem and try to use the strategy you think works best. If it doesn’t work then try a new strategy. Don’t give up easily, a problem should be difficult to solve or else it is not a problem.
4. Present your Work
Write your work in good copy form with 3 sections labelled
Strategy , Work , Answer.