With problem solving as the underlying strand of math that all students must master each year, we as teachers are in charge of making sure we find engaging and meaningful ways that will interact with our students.
Recently I started reading What’s Your Math Problem by Linda Gojak (NCTM president) with my Book Blogging Buddies where she really gets to the point about how important it is for us, as teacher, to teach problem solving daily in our classrooms.
Now you may think, but “I’m not a math teacher,” or “But, I have to teach every subject.” Well, the great thing is problem solving crosses the lines of all subjects. Problem Solving is universal and cross-curricular and therefore applicable in Reading, Writing, Science and Social Studies.
Think about the last book you read… Did you ever contemplate what would happen next for the main character? Did you anticipate one thing and then based on other actions (variables) something else happened? That’s problem solving!
Have you ever performed an experiment in the lab and had very specific directions on mixtures to create? Why do we have these directions? What would happen if we steered off course and went our own route?
Have you looked at things in history such as JFK’s assassination and wondered what would have happened if they took a different route? What if the factors of the day had caused them not to ride in a convertible? Each of the members of the motorcade had to problem solve when the tragedy struck so that they could secure safety of those around them. That’s some real life problem solving.
Now, you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with math?” As a teacher, we know that the more we can relate our teaching to real-life experiences with our students the greater connections will develop. And exposing students to other experiences that they may not have a chance to engage in is just as important.
So the next time you are helping a student determine the answer of 1/4 x 8, related it to something that they are familiar with. What are their interests? Do they love cars? Well then there you go… As you are walking through a parking lot, you notice a line of 8 cars. As you are looking at the types of cars you notice that 1/4 of the cars are white. How many total cars would be white in this row?
It really is as simple as that to help develop a future generation of great problem solvers!
Are you looking for new ideas to use when teaching Problem Solving in your classroom? Feel free to check out all of the fun, engaging activities in my TpT store that follow along with Problem Solving.