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 C

Defining Problem Solving
  Introduction | Posing Problems in a Variety of Contexts | Mathematical Stories | Assessing Student Thinking | Teacher's Role | Your Journal
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Problem-solving experiences can be incorporated into the school day in many different ways. Let's look at some classroom settings that are natural places for problem solving to occur.

Daily Routines

Problem solving should be an integral part of a young child's school experience. Many good problem-solving opportunities can be created as students gather in the morning to take attendance, get the lunch count, look at the calendar, or discuss the day's schedule. Daily routines offer problem-solving contexts in which students can explore new mathematical ideas, or practice and extend previously covered topics. Counting, estimating, collecting and organizing data, and understanding time and money are examples of mathematical concepts that can be developed and explored in daily routines.

Mathematical routines can also be incorporated into work in other subject areas. For example, keeping a chart of daily temperatures in science naturally leads to drawing conclusions (What can you say about winter weather?) and making predictions (What will the temperature be tomorrow?).

The students in Mrs. King's second-grade class write number sentences for each day of the school year. For example, they might write "Today is the 35th school day." A student then adds the day's number to a wall chart, and the students share ways to make 35:

34 + 1 = 35

33 + 1 + 1 = 35

36 - 1 = 35

30 + 5 = 35

10 + 10 + 10 + 5 = 35

5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = 35

10 + 10 + 10 + 10 - 5 = 35

100 - 50 - 10 - 5 = 35

Notice the wide variety of examples that the students found. The first problems begin with simple addition and subtraction. Other examples begin to focus around place value, using benchmark numbers (10, 100, 50, 5), and repeated addition. This open-ended activity gives students the opportunity to explore a variety of mathematical concepts.

Next  Using mathematical stories

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