## Tuesday, February 15, 2011

### Problem Solving in Math

Figuring out what a problem is asking you to do is a challenging skill for most young learners. Even children with exceptional computation skills sometimes have trouble applying mathematical ideas. Problem-solving situations encourage students to organize and stretch their thinking. Also, they give children experience with using problem-solving strategies.

I find it very useful to have children work with partners to solve problems. From discussing problems with their partners and presenting their reasoning processes, children gain valuable language experience. In addition, they have the opportunity to hear and learn from others' approaches to thinking.

Today, I told the children a story. I said that I was walking down the street in Dexter and ran into a farmer. The farmer looked perplexed about something. I asked him what was wrong, and he said he just needed to figure out how many legs and tails there were on all of his animals. He said he had 4 cows and 3 chickens. I told the farmer that I knew some very smart mathematicians that would most certainly be able to help him figure it out.

Each partnership then got a big piece of paper and were told that they should put anything on the paper that would help them solve the problem. It could be a drawing, numbers - whatever. Once the partnership agreed on the answer, then they could share their thinking with the rest of the class.

 Maddy and Clementine show their work and describe the steps they used.
 Here's a picture of me talking to the farmer.
 Arvid explains the strategy that he and Oliver used.

 Here is a very cute cow. Thank goodness we didn't have to figure out teeth and udders!

 Sophie and Owen tell how they came up with the correct answer.