Math 7-9

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Math 7-9 > Strategies > Direct Instruction: Problem-solving Strategies

Direct Instruction: Problem-solving Strategies


Discussing strategies for solving mathematics problems after initially letting students attempt to problem solve on their own helps them understand how to organize their Algebraic 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 direct instruction.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how these high school students discuss in small groups different problem-solving strategies, such as process of elimination and highlighting key patterns, to develop their Statistical Reasoning. Then they discuss their processes with the whole class with the teacher asking probing questions around key problem structure components and strategies for identifying these patterns.

  • Teaching students how to choose from multiple algebraic strategies and to explain their reasoning builds their conceptual understanding. When students are struggling to solve a problem with one strategy, teachers can encourage them to try an alternative one and to reflect afterwards by comparing the outcomes of their choice. Incorporating math talks with solved problems is another way to present various approaches to solving problems and to stimulate discussions around strategies that work for different types of problems.
  • 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 ways to solve a problem and can lead to the validation of an approach that may work better for some learners.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy