Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Problem SolvingSession 03 OverviewTab atab btab ctab dtab eReference
Part A

Observing Student Problem Solving
  Introduction | How Many Vehicles? -- Using Counters | Problem Reflection #1 | How Many Vehicles? -- Using Numbers and Cubes | Problem Reflection #2 | Classroom Practice | Observe a Classroom | Your Journal
"Problem solving is natural to young children because the world is new to them, and they exhibit curiosity, intelligence, and flexibility as they face new situations. The challenge at this level is to build on children's innate problem-solving inclinations and to preserve and encourage a disposition that values problem solving. Teachers should encourage students to use the new mathematics they are learning to develop a broad range of problem-solving strategies, to pose (formulate) challenging problems, and to learn to monitor and reflect on their own ideas in solving problems."

(NCTM, 2000, p. 116)


In order to build on the innate curiosity of young children, problem-solving experiences should be integrated into many aspects of their school day. Mathematical ideas can be developed around problems posed by teachers and students. Real-life problem situations, such as taking attendance, sharing materials, and building with geo-blocks, emerge from the primary classroom environment. As teachers, we need to value the thinking and efforts of our students as they develop a wide variety of strategies for tackling problems.

Let's begin with two examples of student work for you to consider. As you observe the students' work, think about the strategies they use to approach the problem, and the role the teacher plays in guiding and supporting students in all phases of the problem-solving process.

Next  Observe student work

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