Math 7-9

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

Direct Instruction: Problem Structures


Teaching students to recognize the structures of algebraic representations helps them transfer solution methods from familiar to unfamiliar problems. When students learn these structures, they can connect what is similar among them and have greater success in simplifying and solving algebra problems. However, research shows that students develop deeper conceptual understanding and Mathematical Flexibility when they engage in exploratory problem-solving and productive failure before direct instruction.

Use It in the Classroom

  • Teachers can demonstrate that equations in different forms provide different information by using a variety of examples. They then can use think-alouds, asking students to talk through similarities and differences they notice. Lastly, they can have students practice categorizing problems based on their structure and choosing the appropriate strategies to solve each problem type, building their Algebraic Thinking.
  • 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 Math Shake provides general problem structures to support student problem solving. By having the overall outline of an equation, students can practice and develop their abilities to convert word problems into mathematical equations.

  • Digital products can use visual cues, such as colors, annotations, and images, to identify key words and numbers and to highlight the underlying structures of problems. Learners can then practice coding example problems with the same visual tools and drag similar problems into like groups to practice categorizing.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy