Math 3-6

Direct Instruction: Problem-solving Strategies

Overview

Discussing strategies for solving mathematics problems after initially letting students attempt to problem solve on their own helps them understand how to organize their mathematical thinking and intentionally tackle problems. For students to solve math problems accurately and efficiently, they must learn and compare multiple strategies, articulate why they chose one strategy over another, and flexibly apply them. However, research shows that students develop deeper conceptual understanding and Mathematical Flexibility when they engage in problem-solving and productive failure before this direct instruction.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this sixth grade teacher models and reviews the process of dividing fractions to build Proportional Reasoning. By integrating movement with each key term, students are able to remember and apply the strategy in their problem-solving process.

  • Teachers can teach and model various strategies, like representing the problem visually or paraphrasing, for tackling problems. They then can give students the opportunity to compare and choose which strategies they use and have them reflect on the outcomes of their choices.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    Learn how DreamBox Learning allows students to solve problems in multiple ways. By explicitly promoting problem solving with different strategies, this product builds Mathematical Flexibility, while also developing conceptual math understanding.

  • Products can present different strategies to solving the same type of problem. This reinforces the concept that there are a variety of possibilities to solving a problem and can lead to the validation of an approach that may work better for some learners.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy

    Social and Emotional Learning